Youth Empowerment Day was held at the Logan Center during the Emmett Till commemorative weekend in Chicago. Youth and adults gathered to hear from the Till family and to discuss the racial climate in the South at the time of Till’s murder. Thee day of seminars, film screenings and performances was designed to educate, engage and empower youth. Mysonne Linen of NY Justice League and Jasiri X of 1HOOD performed pieces that addressed the acts of violence enacted upon our youth across the country.
Che “Rhymefest” Smith moderated the panel comprised of the family members who have lost children to acts of violence. The initial question posed to the family members had to do with time healing their wounds when it comes to the loss they have experienced. The responses were heartrending. Uncle Bobby, the uncle of Oscar Grant mentioned how it took almost four to five years for Oscar Grant’s mother to be able to speak about what happened to her son. Michael Brown Sr. spoke about time representing the four and a half hours his son Michael Brown Jr. spent laying dead on the ground in 90-degree weather, and trying to get past armed police and barking dogs just to see his son.
Rolling out posed a question to the panel about their capacity for forgiveness. Valarie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell, who was shot 50 times and killed by NY police officers, said: “In order to focus and be clear what I need to do I must forgive, I have a shirt that I wrote it says If God forgives so can you. I forgive not for the people who killed my son but for me.”