Phyllis Duncan, founder of Mother of Murdered Sons (MOMS), encourages motorists to “Honk For Peace” Saturday at a violence awareness/back-to-school event in Maywood. Below, Awnterra Taylor, 19, of Chicago, holds up a peace sign. | David Pollard
Sunday, August 28, 2016 || By David Pollard || @maywoodnews
Car horns were blaring at the intersection of Ninth Avenue and Madison Street on Saturday — and they weren’t coming from police squad cars or fire engines.
A group of concerned Maywood residents and supporters were gathered on the intersection’s southwest corner in order to raise gun violence awareness.
As part of that effort, members of Mothers of Murdered Sons (MOMS) and the Women’s Community Leadership Council asked passing drivers to honk during an event they called a “Drive By for Peace.”
“Honk if you want the violence in the community to stop,” said MOMS founder and community activist Phyllis Duncan through a bullhorn.
“The purpose of this event is to bring awareness to our community,” Duncan said. “Recently there were four murders in Proviso Township and neighbors in the community know nothing about it.”
The event, Duncan noted, was also designed to kickoff the new school year. Participants gave away dictionaries and other reading materials, along with free hot dogs and snow cones.
“We want (students) to have a safe school year,” said participant Wylmarie Sykes. “We have more children walking to school since the closing of some of the schools.”
Sykes said it’s time for reinforce the importance of education and help young people “realize the benefits of doing the right thing, the benefits of having good character” she said. “I want them to go to school, go to college, the more you learn the more you earn.”
At events like these, there’s always the specter of negativity looming over the positive outreach and the well-wishes.
Germaine Porter, 48, a member of MOMS, and her husband, Kenneth Sr., are still dealing with the loss of their 16 year-old son, Kenneth Jr., who was killed as a result of gun violence in Maywood 13 years ago.
“I don’t want any more members of MOMS,” said Porter, who added that, while the organization is made up of women, men also have a crucial role to play in terms of stopping the violence.
“We need our men to come out and be a part of this and not stand in the shadows,” she said.
Her surviving son, Tony Porter, 20, was very young when his older brother died, but now that he’s a new father he wants to help out, he said.
“I want to be out here and I want to help,” Porter noted. “I know it means a lot my mom.”
“I’m able to smile and that was the hardest thing for a while and now I’m able to smile,” said Porter. VFP