Sunday, June 27, 2010

Point #8: Sacrifice

Many of you who attended the "Restoring our Community" March and rally correctly noted that there were actually 8 points we discussed and not 7 as mentioned in my previous post. I hadn't included the 8th point because I was struggling with how to summarize it. But I guess the best way to summarize the point would be Sacrifice.

You see, the work of restoring and transforming our community will not be easy. It will not be divided into easy and convenient projects. It will require our time. It will require our attention. We will have to sacrifice to make this happen.

We began yesterday with a tribute of sorts. Back in 2000, Wichita experienced two unspeakable horrors within a matter of days. Two quadruple homicides on opposite sides of town; both senseless, both equally tragic. But the first of these savage attacks, the murders of Jermaine Levy, Dessa Laquita Ford, Quincy Williams, and Raeshawndra Wheaton (all aged 17), passed quickly from the media spotlight. The latter case, which came to be known as the Wichita Massacre, garnered national media attention. The former seemed all but forgotten, victims of our desensitized acquiescence to violence...

Two of these children, Quincy Williams and Dessa Ford, have spent 10 years in unmarked graves.  The family has struggled to try and raise the funds needed to purchase headstones but had repeatedly fallen short. A cousin of Quincy and Dessa, Ms. Candace Reed, worked tirelessly to ensure that these children were remembered, and that we as a community would wake up to recognize the horrors and atrocities taking place on our streets, and that we would be inspired to act.

...and we are so inspired

Point number 8 involved us recognizing that restoration will require personal sacrifice from all who wish to see it. We asked everyone, still sweating and hot from the march, to reach into their pockets and pay for those headstones... not tomorrow ..not to make a contribution towards them ...but to pay for them, completely, right then and there.

Robert Bethea from the Bigelow Bethea Funeral Services was among the marchers, and he volunteered to purchase and provide the headstones at cost. And when we asked the audience to give, so many hands went up so quickly that it was difficult to acknowledge them all... We met our target, raising exactly what we had asked for, and shortly after I hit publish on this post, I will be driving over to Bigelow Bethea to pay for the placement of the headstones.

If we are willing to sacrifice, there is no problem or issue we can't resolve. I was so moved and proud to be a part of this community at that moment... and yet I know, that this is only the beginning,,,

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