Youth Lead Gun Violence Summit


“We shouldn’t even be having this whole event right now,” 16-year-old Timberley Brown said. “There’s too many young people dying.”

The event Timberley addressed was called LET MY CHILDREN GROW, a Youth Summit on Gun Violence, hosted by Neighborhood House teens on Thursday, February 25th, 2016. Guest speakers included gun violence survivors and witnesses. Law enforcement officers from District 3 attended, and teens gave performances reflecting on their concerns.

The summit was organized in the wake of recent tragedies, including the shooting deaths of 18 year old Joshua Words in December 2015, and 48 year old Jay Ro in June 2015. Words participated in Neighborhood House youth and summer employment programs and Ro studied English at International Learning Center, a Neighborhood House program for refugees.

Many thanks to Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Ashley Luthern, WTMJ4’s Courtney Gerrish, and WDJT58 for getting teens voices on the air and in print.

Youth performed movingly in poetry, spoken word, and sharing first hand experiences and frustration.

Nelicia recited a poem by her cousin, Anita Brooks, who was killed in an act of domestic violence three years ago.  “You don’t have to have a gun in your hand or be out here in the streets just to be noticed,” Nelicia reminded us. “Put the guns down, put your fist up.”

Kaliah Hughes-Bester, 15, gave an impassioned spoken-word performance of a poem she wrote called “Behind the Gun.” Hughes-Bester said she has family members who have been the shooter in violent situations, and she felt it was an important point of view to explore since people rarely try to understand the perpetrator.

“Not only is there the victim, but there’s also another victim,” she said. “No person in their right mind would just go out to shoot people.”

Curtis Ingram, 14, was one of many young black men to attend the summit. Ingram said, while he understands that the conditions and treatment African-Americans have faced plays a role, he doesn’t understand why young black people are hurting each other.

Ingram, who said he wants to be an engineer so he “explore the world and create things” called the stories he heard at the summit “tragic.

For more information on Neighborhood House Teen Program contact  James Austin at (414) 933-6161 ext.137,


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