A broad coalition of community members from Watertown participated in the 2015 Mother’s Day Walk for Peace in Dorchester.
According to the Rev. Amy McCreath of Good Shepherd Church and the Rev. Mark Harris of First Parish Church, 85 people, including a large number of middle school and high school students, filled two school buses that departed Watertown Square at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 11th. We marched as a group we called “Watertown Walks for Peace” in the hopes of building bridges across difference here in Watertown and supporting the wise work for justice led by others in the Boston area. We also walked to speak out about the needless and senseless violence in our schools, on our streets, and in our neighborhoods. The group raised over $2,675 to support the vital work of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, which helps families who have lost loved
ones to violence.
The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace was created in 1996 and has become a place for survivors of homicide victims and friends to experience support and love from thousands of others who pledge their commitment to peace. This year fifteen thousand walkers raised over $330,000.
During the Walk members of the Watertown group fanned out to meet fellow walkers. Pastor Amy spoke with Milton Jones, Director of Operations at the Peace Institute, a survivor who lost two brothers and a stepson to gun violence. As they walked, many young adults came up to chat, joke, and ask Milton questions. He considers his work a spiritual calling and said that doing it gives him hope. A teacher from Roxbury who lost both a student and a nephew to gun violence said, “We must keep walking, and praying, and speaking up, for as long as it takes.”
Pastor Amy also met the Rev. Harry Jean-Jacques of the Church of the Holy Spirit (Episcopal) in Mattapan, where Odin Lloyd worshipped. The Reverend said the Walk gives him energy to continue the church’s work to help educate, feed, and support children and teens, and that it’s comforting to know “we are not alone.” Odin Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, walked with a large contingent of family and friends, as did the family of Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard. Both Ursula Ward and Denise Richard spoke at the rally following the Walk.
Larry Raskin of World in Watertown met the uncle of Jaewon Martin, a 14-year-old honors student at the Timilty Middle School in Roxbury who was shot in 2010 while playing basketball in what was apparently a case of mistaken identity involving rival gangs. His uncle said ‘he was in the wrong place at the wrong time; we are walking today in his memory’.
Merveline Chambers, the mother of Ivol Brown, walked with ‘Team Ivol’. Her 17-year-old son was stabbed to death in Mattapan on Memorial Day in 2010. Ivol was an artist and community leader who tried to secure summer jobs for youth. Merveline is a member of Mothers for Justice and Equality (MJE), whose founder and president, Monalisa Smith, was the keynote speaker at Watertown’s 2014 Unity Breakfast.
These stories put faces and names to the raw numbers we read about in the news, and reveal the great pain and suffering families and friends experience. Survivors at the Walk shared their desire to remember those they lost and do something positive for peace in their communities.
Three elected officials were part of the Watertown contingent: Senator Will Brownsberger, Representative Jon Hecht, and Councilor Tony Palomba. Will Brownsberger said he sees the Walk as “an opportunity to stand for peace and justice.”
He added that it’s important for all communities to stand for what is a national issue. Jon Hecht said it’s a critical moment for us to be together to make a statement about violence in some of our communities. “We’re lucky to live in a town that’s very peaceful.” He also recognized that there’s always more we can do to make everyone in Watertown feel welcome and valued. Our youth have opportunities to learn about people from many backgrounds and cultures, and this creates conditions for deeper understanding.
Tony Palomba shared that “it was particularly important to be part of the Mother’s Day March for Peace this year in light of the deaths in Ferguson, St. Louis, Staten Island, and Baltimore. Both as a resident of Watertown and a Town Councilor I look forward to even greater participation from Watertown in next year’s march.”
The group that organized the Watertown Walks for Peace contingent vowed to do more outreach to mobilize an even larger group next year, which will mark the twentieth anniversary of the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.
Submitted by Mishy Lesser