On July 28th, on the basketball courts of Lowden Homes, women of faith and their communities came together to declare a state of emergency in the city of Chicago. Several months ago, a small group of women began forming the Fierce Women of Faith to respond to the crisis of violence in Chicago. The group is multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-faith and seeks to bring together women of faith (and their communities) from the suburbs and across the city to take action in a strategic and united way.
An important component of FWF is the focus on supporting the existing work and leadership of women who live in communities heavily impacted by gun violence. Sunday was the first demonstration of this model with the FWF standing alongside the Leading Ladies of Lowden Homes to call for peace. One of these women, Brenda Smith, gave a moving speech about her brother 18-year old brother who was murdered last May. Smith was able to convey the urgency and necessity of taking real action right now.
The action was led by Rev. Marcenia Richards, the Executive Director of the Peace Coalition Against Violence and one of the women responsible for organizing FWF. She outlined a five-point plan of action that will guide the group’s work:
(1) Offer public witness concerning violence – each Tuesday at 10:00am, when the emergency siren is heard across the city, women will pray everywhere;
(2) Train advocates to lead initiatives for peace;
(3) Pursue legislation on common sense gun laws;
(4) Drive enforcement by actively pursuing shutting down those establishments that are detrimental to our communities and our youth;
(5) Deepen and develop partnerships with organizations that work with youth affected by gun violence.
Several faith leaders spoke, including Rabbi Ali Abrams, JCUA’s Director of Organizing. She gave voice to JCUA’s commitment to the value and dignity of every human being and the responsibility we have to making Chicago a safe and healthy city for all people in all communities. A group from Beth Hillel B’nai Emunah in Wilmette was also present to show that people in the Jewish community want to stand in solidarity with those experiencing the tragic consequences of violence.
At JCUA, we look forward to continuing this important work with our partners throughout the Chicago area. For further information, please contact Rabbi Ali Abrams at email@example.com.