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World Day of Social Justice Commemorated in Birmingham

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Artist and sculptor Willie Williams Jr, hosted World Day of Social Justice at his Studio 2500 in Birmingham. (Nicole Daniel, The Birmingham Times)

By Nicole S. Daniel

The Birmingham Times

Birmingham resident Catrina Carey, who lost her son Derrick Marks to gun violence in February 2020, has a simple request for area leaders: find a better way to inform young people about jobs, even if it’s just summer employment.

“There are programs out there, but they are not publicized to the lower-class communities,” she said. “There are jobs but children in poverty don’t know about them to go out and get the help that they want or need . . . leaders have to do more than what they are doing.”

Carey was one of nine mothers on a panel Monday commemorating World Day of Social Justice during a community conversation, “Overcoming Gun Violence, Pursuing Justice and Peace.”

The event was hosted by Birmingham artist and sculptor Willie Williams Jr, at his Studio 2500 and the panel of mothers was made up of those who lost children to gun violence. Lisa Daniels, president of the Birmingham Metropolitan Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, moderated the conversation.

“Too often we’re in silos and we’re not listening to one another … I just wanted to promote mental health awareness, provide support and remember what gun violence really means,” said Daniels, who added ultimate goal for the event was to make sure the mothers had a space to talk. It’s important that “we get back active in the communities and support one another,” she said.

Dana Ellis, of Moms Demand Action, provided support for Birmingham’s World Day of Social Justice. (Nicole Daniel, The Birmingham Times)

Also in attendance was Dana Ellis, a member of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. “We advocate for legislation, we provide education, support community group that are doing this work as well,” she said.

Ellis met Sheree Kennon, founder of What About Us, Birmingham-based a nonprofit organization that provides support services for those who have experienced the loss of a child, about two months ago at a community round table.

Asked her thoughts about Monday’s event Ellis said, “whenever anyone dies our whole community suffers. The suffering of the community is not like the suffering of the [mother] and I know that. But we’re diminished every time someone dies. It’s a community crisis that needs all hands-on deck.”

Williams said World Day of Social Justice was recognized in 2009 by the General Assembly of the United Nations with the primary objectives of social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality.

On Monday, he asked attendees and panelists to use one finger, dip it into black paint and leave their fingerprint on a white sheet a paper with intersecting lines.

“These lines represent is our shared experience together and all of our roads that has led us together to be here today,” he said. “As you leave your fingerprint one by one that will bind us together forever. It will be on display here [at Studio 2500] for a while.”