A Gangsters Path to Peace Prize

Dec 20, 2009

This month’s issue of Youth Today highlights the story of Brian King and his path from the streets of Chicago as a high ranking member of the Gangster Disciples to receiving the 2009 California Peace Prize.  The California Wellness Foundation recognized three leaders from throughout the state for their significant contribution to peace and violence prevention within our most vulnerable communities. 

I had an amazing personal experience while attending the conference where these honorees were recognized.  I found myself in a room with nearly 300 people who represented all walks of life and carried with them individual stories of pain and perseverance that were both eye opening and humbling. Some had been part of the problem that so many are trying to solve in our neighborhoods while others were the real victims.  I met an incredible woman who had lost both of her sons in two separate drive by shooting incidents 16 years ago and has since built an organization called “Drive By Agony” to work with youth and the media to build a voice against violence.  What touched me the most is that I was in a room full of people who have made a decision to be part of the solution and are committing their life’s work to doing what they can to BE the difference.  I loved what honoree Olis Simmons from Youth UpRising shared with us about preventing violence.  She said “Be expansive in your notion of prevention. It’s not simply preventing a physical disease; it’s preventing the loss of hope.”

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