Black Resilience in the Gun Violence Prevention Movement
Black History Month is a time to reflect and highlight the innovation, creativity, and resiliency that Black people have demonstrated throughout history—despite systematically oppressive conditions. I join other advocates to continue this legacy of working toward empowerment, liberation, and freedom from the threats of gun violence in our communities.
I got involved with Moms Demand Action following the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina—in memory of my 25-year-old mother Sharon Neal, whose life was taken by gun violence in 1980. Moms Demand Action gives me the platform to honor the legacy of my mother and fellow survivors by being an advocate to keep our communities safe from the threats of gun violence.
With a rate of 23.4 deaths per 100,000 people, Mississippi has the highest rate of gun deaths in the US.
In Mississippi, Black people are 1.5x more likely than white people to die by guns, and 5x more likely than white people to die by gun homicide.
I’m glad to be a part of a group that’s bringing actualized change in America because gun violence disproportionately affects Black men. As leaders in our communities, we carry significant influence on the behavior and values our young Black men learn.
Jenevia Blanks, the Interfaith/Local group lead for Moms Demand Action in Milwaukee, shared:
“It is so important to ensure Black men’s voices are part of the gun violence prevention movement, to reach other Black men and men of color to be the change the world needs to see. Black men are disproportionately impacted by gun violence, and impacted people should be centered in solutions. Black men can promote unity among all men of color and empower other Black men to see there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel and that disparity in impoverished communities does not have to be the accepted norm. I look forward to creating space for everyone to see themselves in our work, and show up when they can.”
It’s critical that our faces and voices are visible to reflect the losses to gun violence in our communities. I appreciate the camaraderie and collective voice we can provide to those who see gun violence through a stained lens to help project a positive unified message.
Black History Month
This Black History Month, we hold space for the Black survivors of gun violence and recognize the gun safety advocates leading the charge at all levels to keep our communities safe. We know that we still have a long way to go to end gun violence—particularly its impact on the Black community, and we’re holding space for survivors of gun violence and Black advocates to continue to effect positive change. We are continuously working to stop gun violence through both grassroots and national channels, as we focus on and elevate the work and successes of the many Black voices who have helped progress the gun violence prevention movement and keep their communities—and the country—safe.
Dr. Lorenzo Neal (he/him/his)
Survivor Membership Lead from Jackson, Mississippi