A Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims
For the past 14 years, the Durham Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children has observed a day of remembrance for murder victims. Each year, there are more parents of murdered children. On Wednesday night in front of the Durham County Courthouse, it held a Take A Stand Against Violence event to coincide with the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. Among those gathered were two local politicians who have felt the pain as others in the small crowd. Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden’s niece was murdered, and Durham County Commission Vice Chair Brenda Howerton’s two sons were killed by gun violence.
Cole-McFadden said she stands with other families of those who have been murdered and recognizes that “there’s a hole in our hearts that will never fill.” She said they must keep trying for gun control and to keep guns in check and violent people in check.
Howerton said she couldn’t bring her children back, but God gives her the strength to fight for others -- for justice and for the opportunity for a fulfilling life in Durham County.
“God bless you and know that you are not alone,” Howerton said.
Durham County Sheriff Michael Andrews said that no one should ever have to cope with that loss alone.
“We know the pain you feel is real, we know your hearts are empty,” Andrews said.
Community member Wilma Liverpool said it was the first of Day of Remembrance she has attended, and the victims “are all my babies.” She didn’t know anyone personally killed by gun violence until last fall, when a student at Hillside High School was shot and killed that she knew as a baby. Liverpool said ending poverty would stop 80 percent of the gun violence.
Of about 40 people gathered at the courthouse, several wore buttons that had images of their late loved ones. Tasha Bembury of the Durham Police Department presented a remembrance video that featured the photographs of those whose lives in Durham were ended through violence over the years. Many of the photos showed smiling young men in caps and gowns. The slideshow included names like Lazarren McLean, Crayton Nelms, Jonathan Skinner, Denita Smith, Ebony Robinson, Jimmy Ricco Williams, Quincy Bowens, Dolores Gomez, Abdula Helms, Tony Williams, Lamont Brandon, Ian Davis, Manuel Mata and Jessica George. And many, many more.
Mina Hampton, co-leader of POMC Durham, invited those gathered to look at the Murder Wall, a list of those killed in Durham between 1993 and 2013, so far.
“Let’s all pray that we don’t have any more murders,” Hampton said.
One of the slideshow photos of a young man with a big smile was JeJuan Taylor Jr., who was killed April 18 on LaSalle Street.
“He was well-known for his smile. He was the love of my life,” said his mother, Nakecha Taylor. JeJuan was a 2011 Riverside High School graduate with a promising future, she said. Friends and family, including JeJuan’s three little nieces, attended the event she heard about through Healing Circles, a program of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham. Taylor said she thought the remembrance event was wonderful.
Families also received single red roses and electric candles to hold during the event as they read “We Remember Them,” from the Jewish book of prayer. The final line the crowd recited was, “So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are part of us.”
POMC Durham recently received the Dorothy Lobes Award for its public awareness achievements and programs of assistance to survivors. For information, contact POMC leaders Diane Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org, 919-491-0821 or Mina Hampton at email@example.com, 919-477-3177.