Sunday’s rally to Combat Gun Violence and Empower Youth and Black Voters held in Memphis before the start of the special session was a powerful display of solidarity for area youth and key issues affecting their lives. Various community organizations came together to provide activities, resources, and information about critical topics like voting and public safety.
The event featured notable speakers like District Attorney Steve Cohen, State Representative G.A. Hardaway, District Representative Justin Pearson, and mayoral candidates Van Turner and Brandon Price. Rep. Pearson gave a passionate opening prayer that ignited spirits and set the tone for the important week ahead. Throughout the event, Rep. Pearson and other officials made time to speak directly with youth leaders in attendance.
Several speakers called for greater community accountability to stop gun violence, sharing lessons from their own past experiences to empathize with youth today. Others discussed how poverty, lack of resources, and neglect in many communities cause individuals to resort to violence out of desperation. Speakers emphasized the need for public officials and institutions to address these root causes. Other speakers called for recognizing the emotional toll of combating violence, and encouraged leaders to persist in doing this vital work while making time to rest and take care of themselves.
The rally included many engaging activities for young people. Game Changers provided chess games, Memphis Artists for Change performed socially conscious music, and youth poet Trekeria shared impactful works written during her experiences as a young person in the youth justice system. Attendees found relief from the heat with a food truck, water ice stand, and a bounce house. Voter registration and music from a DJ created an atmosphere of empowerment and community.
The Combating Gun Violence and Empowering Youth and Black Voters Rally brought people together to support Memphis youth, connect them with resources, and amplify their voices. The event offered hope for creating a more just and compassionate future through solidarity, civic engagement, and addressing core needs. United alongside youth, we will continue to push for a safe, just, and thriving future for our young people today, and generations to come!