Wilmington Residents and Nonviolent Wilmington Marches for Peace
October 3, 2019
There is strength in numbers, community, and unity.
Wilmington’s citizens marched from the Helen Chambers playground on 600 North Madison Street and ended their march at the Friends Meeting House in the Quaker Hill neighborhood on Sunday, a march organized by Nonviolent Wilmington.
The annual march followed the recent shootings that seemed to occur back to back in September, claiming the lives of Hakeem Smalls, Kenyotta Manuel, Dwayne Britt, Kenneth Hamilton, Naithan Grzybowski, Nadine Midgette, and injured others.
The phrases, ‘What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!’ and ‘Put the guns down! They want to grow up!’ echoed throughout the streets of Monroe and Madison.
Homeowners looked on with nods of approval and City Council President Hanifa Shabazz encouraged them to join the march.
“I think everyone is trying to understand that the non tolerance of the violence we are experiencing and what does that mean. We can say no violence, no peace, but we know what’s causing the violence. There are many root causes and we are really going to have to address that. Especially us as adults. These are our children. Whether they are your blood child or not, we have a responsibility as citizens in this city to create an environment where our children can grow and thrive. Our children are our future,” Shabazz said.
After the march, the peaceful protesters met inside the Friends Meeting House to listen to community leaders and Nonviolent Wilmington Staff on how to educate and support the generation coming behind them.
Reverend Lawrence Livingston of the Mother African Union Church echoed local author Bryan Stevenson’s words in his book Just Mercy that without justice there is no peace.
Councilwoman Rysheema Dixon agreed that a collaborative effort of city officials and residents of Wilmington needs to take place to reduce the violence in the city.
“The march is not the only thing that we do. From housing to our poverty levels, to our employment levels. All those things impact what happens to our communities and why there is such an outcry of the injustice happening in our communities everyday,” Dixon said.
Councilwoman Dixon adds that council is working on the housing issues, minimum wage, body cameras for the police, and helping with the unemployment rate to help with violence. She believes that the public’s involvement is crucial to helping the communities flourish and enforce peace.
“Work with us and tell us what the issues are. Working with us on solutions. We sometimes tend to get focused on the ‘what are the issues?’ What can we do as a community as a whole and as well as elected officials to say ‘what can we do to help solve the issue of bringing a grocery store to your neighborhood or bringing more healthy food options to your corner store?” Dixon said. “How do we increase our minimum wage level so that you can have the income that you’re looking for within your communities? What are your interests in those levels and how can we best serve that?”
Shabazz and Dixon agree that unity and action will be the driving force to accomplishing peace.
“We sometimes fail to remember that our communities face these inequities every single day and at the same time. Routinely, we sector how and where we help. Being able to work with communities to say we understand that everything is interconnected. We have to work on all these issues at the same time. Everyone can still work within their lanes and do what they need to do. There’s an ultimate goal that we’re looking for to help with making our communities healthier and what that looks like is depending on what your expertise is. Slowly incorporating all those things into communities. So that residents understand that we’re working with them on all fronts, not just issues on education and healthcare,” said Dixon.
“Prayer is nought if we don’t put the action behind it. We pray for our actions to be fruitful and to accomplish our purpose that God has set for us. The march really showed that there are people who really think by any means necessary to get to the peace. Understanding the mindset of our children, the pain that our children are in. When someone is ill, you have to talk to them in a different tone. The sincerity has to come through in your action and conversation with them. We adults think we know everything, but we don’t know everything. We adults have to really just be quiet, sit back, and listen. Let our children tell us and be responsive to what our children are saying to us,” said Shabazz.
Dixon encouraged residents to contact city council officials if they have any concerns. For more information on ways to promote peace for the city, visit nonviolentwilmington.org.