WOODLAWN — A ceremony featuring drumming, poetry and libations will be held Sunday in Jackson Park to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and other victims of violence in Chicago.
The 37th annual Victims of Violence Wholly Day will be held 2–3 p.m. at Jackson Park baseball field No. 2, behind the field house at 6401 S. Stony Island Ave. Attendees are encouraged to wear black. The day marks the anniversary of King’s assassination.
King, Helen Richard, Ben Wilson and other victims will be honored Sunday, EvAngel “Mamadee” YHWHnewBN said. She’s the event’s organizer and a member of the Global Committee Commemorating King Days, and she will read poems she wrote at the ceremony.
Richard, a bus driver on the 74th-75th Street route and a mother of four, was shot to death in February 1984 over a fare dispute, according to the Chicago Tribune. A South Shore woman was convicted of her murder a year later.
Wilson was a star basketball player at Simeon Vocational High School, becoming the first Illinoisan to be named the top prep prospect in the nation, according to the Tribune. He died in November 1984 after being shot twice during his lunch period.
“When Benji Wilson became a victim of violence on the day before Thanksgiving Day, I said to his mother, ‘I think God is trying to tell us something — love one another,'” YHWHnewBN said.
The April 4 Victims of Violence Day, organized to “affirm the principles of non-violence,” is one of three “days of respect” YHWHnewBN is calling on the Illinois Legislature to adopt and formally recognize in schools statewide.
Others include a Jan. 15 Humanitarian Day on King’s birthday, honoring human and civil rights; and an Aug. 28 Dream Day on the anniversary of Emmett Till’s killing at the hands of white supremacists in Mississippi. Dream Day would honor human spirituality and morality.
A bill sponsored by Chicago-based Reps. Sonya Harper (D-6th) and LaShawn Ford (D-8th) to recognize the three holidays was introduced in February, but it stalled in committee until the legislative session ended.
For more information on Sunday’s ceremony, call YHWHnewBN at 773-737-7328 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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