On December 21, 2015, The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute held the 15th Annual Closing Ceremony for Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month at the beautiful First Parish Church in Dorchester. In attendance were city workers, clergy, providers and families of homicide victims. Reverend Wayne S. Daley (Program Coordinator, LDBPI) opened the evening in prayer, and was followed by Shahi Smart (Survivors Outreach Services Advocate, LDBPI) who welcomed everyone and invited them to try-on the seven principles of peace. “When love, unity and faith knock at the door, offer them a seat at the table. When hope, courage and justice knock, offer them a seat at the table. And even when forgiveness knocks- yes, forgiveness, offer it a seat at the table as well.”
The program continued with a candle lighting ceremony. Attendees were invited to light a candle and say out loud the name of their loved one who has been murdered. “May their light shine forever,” said Chaplain Clementina M. Chery (President & CEO, LDBPI). At their seats and in silence, people were remembering and reflecting on their loved ones. Candles were lit and Ave Maria was played in the background on the piano by Daniel Parker (Peace Fellow Intern, LDBPI).
The speaking program consisted of seven men survivors of homicide victims, reflecting on their personal journeys with one of the seven principles of peace. Jerry Saint Cloud with Love; Tyrone Odom on Courage; Tony Perkins on Hope; Greg Gibson on Forgiveness; Pastor Ronald Odom on Justice; Luis Antonio Thompson on Unity; and Milton Jones on Faith. Each of these men used this time and space to share their stories of struggle, strength, healing, and transformation- making it safe for men, and more importantly, younger generations of men to publically show emotion in a healthy way. They have even named themselves the Magnificent Seven.
At The Peace Institute we are guided by Spirit, and it was already written that these seven men were going to shift the way this state views survivors of homicide victims. We (survivors) are not only women. We are powerful families- held, guided, and protected by the men. And I am honored to be able provide the space where men can take their rightful place in the survivor movement: on the front lines. (Alexandra Chery, Program Coordinator, LDBPI).
The Ceremony has officially closed Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month and there are still a few more events happening that we encourage everyone to attend. See Calendar of Events.
Photo: We're Still Here: Seven Men, Seven Principles of Peace
Left to right: Greg Gibson, Luis Antonio Thompson, Pastor Ronald Odom, Tyrone Odom, Tony Perkins, Milton Jones, Jerry Saint Cloud