I am the founder and executive director of The Acting Compassionately Everyday (ACE) Project. We work to transform the lives of underserved youth and families impacted by gun violence and trauma through compassion, resources, and unique opportunities.
I started The ACE Project in response to the tragic loss of my son, Cory Crowe Sr., on October 25, 2014, due to senseless gun violence. I wanted to turn the pain into power and address the impact of gun violence, create safer communities, and contribute to healing those affected by trauma. Taking a significant step, I acquired property and transformed it into a community center, now known as ACE Place. This center is a testament to our commitment to healing, empowerment, and creating a positive space for the community.
I’m working to prevent such tragedies from happening to others and serve as a catalyst for individuals to engage in advocacy and prevention efforts actively.
At The ACE Project, our unique approach to addressing gun violence with survivors stands out because of our emphasis on holistic healing. We include trauma-informed bodywork in our healing efforts. This innovative addition recognizes the interconnectedness of physical and emotional well-being, offering survivors therapeutic techniques that acknowledge and address the impact of trauma on the body.
Our work is instrumental in creating safer communities, protecting the well-being of survivors, and promoting healing and resilience. I’d been part of the Everytown Survivor Network and Moms Demand Action for several years, but in 2021, we received an Everytown Survivor Network grant, and that funding has expanded our capacity to provide counseling services and support groups, and to strengthen our advocacy efforts.
On a day-to-day basis, The ACE Project oversees programs that address violence prevention and intervention measures, conducts outreach initiatives to engage communities affected by gun violence, and oversees educational efforts. As executive director, I also facilitate meetings for survivors and plan workshops and retreats, like a Survivors Healing Retreat we’ll be holding in Jamaica in October 2024.
One of the most memorable interactions I’ve had through my work took place at a similar healing retreat. A participant—who had lost her child—said that she met some wonderful women and learned different ways to enhance her healing while attending the retreat. She stated that she is learning how to live again like a baby learning to walk, and she said that the healing retreat was the most amazing experience she had since she lost her child. Her testimony alone makes my work worth it.
To explain the importance of our work to others, I emphasize that gun violence prevention is not a one-size-fits-all issue. Elevating Black voices in the gun violence prevention space ensures that policies and strategies consider the specific experiences and needs of Black individuals and communities. It promotes a more comprehensive and effective approach to tackling the root causes of gun violence.
Embracing diverse perspectives enhances the movement’s strength, resilience, and ability to create lasting change. By actively listening to and uplifting Black voices, we contribute to building a movement that reflects the true diversity of those affected and fosters a more equitable and just society. And by amplifying these voices, we bring attention to the disproportionate impact gun violence has on historically marginalized communities while seeking inclusive solutions.
What gives me hope about the gun violence prevention movement is the resilience and tenacity of Black advocates who have made significant strides in raising awareness, influencing policies, and fostering community empowerment.
Looking back, the legacies and rich histories of Black gun violence prevention advocates have paved the way for increased awareness of the unique challenges faced by Black communities. Today, there is growing momentum, collaboration, and movement in the gun violence prevention space, indicating a collective commitment to systemic change. Tomorrow holds promises as more voices join the cause to push for equitable solutions and policy reforms that address the root causes of gun violence.
Rose Smith (she/her)
Rose Smith is the founder and executive director of The Acting Compassionately Everyday (ACE) Project.