I have been involved with Moms Demand Action since my 18-year-old granddaughter, TiKiya Allen, was killed by a drive-by shooter. She was a first-year nursing student at Oakland University, and she was on a mission to become an anesthesiology nurse.
And she should still be here to be the positive and productive citizen of this country that she was striving to become.
This movement was just what I needed to get me going forward with my mission to preserve the lives of our youth. From volunteering to testifying at the State Capitol, I have been able to transform my grief into action—that’s how I honor TiKiya and other victims of gun violence. I am very passionate about stopping the senseless loss of our young people to senseless gun violence; it is taking our country’s future.
Gun violence is devastating, but I have hope. The policy changes and legislation recently passed by the Biden Administration give me hope that we are turning the corner in this country. These actions are changing first how we recognize the problem of gun violence, and then how we take action to address the epidemic that has for so long been taking the lives of Black people in general, and our youth in particular.
I am also inspired by the various ways that people have worked to address gun violence. Of course, I truly admire Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work on this crisis, but I also think Mrs. Coretta Scott King was a great example of the powerful presence of Black women in the fight for peace and freedom from violence. It truly takes a village and everyone’s ideas to move closer to a solution—together is how we achieve real and meaningful change.
I’ve seen that as a member of a Moms Demand Action Black Caucus group, where it has been very helpful and encouraging to listen to the stories of others and take away a new tactic or idea to continue my own advocacy. I look forward to the opportunity I have to advance Moms Demand Action in the Black community.
Gun violence prevention work is hard work, and it is a marathon, not a sprint. I have to tell myself this every day. And when I share my story with others, I let listeners know that we must continue to raise our voices and to stay the course in this battle against senseless gun violence. Because if we don’t, who will?
Bonnie Whittaker (she/her)
Bonnie Whittaker is a volunteer with the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action.