Updated: Aug 8, 2020
Black Male Alliance will hold a protest and walk against gun violence at 6 p.m. Friday, August 7 in the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center's parking lot at the corner of Church and Dodge.
The rally kicks off five weeks of organized events and activities for young Black men to develop community-based solutions to end the violence and to share those solutions with the City.
The Black Male Alliance, a newly formed group convened by Nathan Norman, program supervisor of the City's Youth and Young Adult outreach division and Evanston Township High School (ETHS) Varsity basketball coach Rudy Meo, is calling on Black men and boys of all ages and the entire Evanston community to rally at 6 p.m. this Friday evening for peace and against gun violence in Evanston.
The group, which Norman says is an organic and authentic response to the recent violence in Evanston, comprises community activists, community police officers, residents, and members of faith-based organizations.
Members include: Jermey Mccray, Maurice Wilkerson, and Genaro Hernandez all of whom are outreach workers for the City; Kevin L. Brown, former Youth and Young Adult Division manager; Evanston Police Department Officers Adam Howard, Lloyce Spells, and Corey mcCray; Rick Marsh, community activist and president of Curt's Cafe; Oliver A. Ruff, activist, retired educator, and member of OPAL; Pastors Rick Thomas, Karl Angelia Adair, and Demond Mills; Robert Pressoir, Robert Reese, and community activists Justin McCray, Jeron Dorsey, Alando Massie, and Bamidele Ali.
"We're going to rally together and then walk the streets of Evanston in an effort to band together and express concern over the violence that has been happening in Evanston, and the negative impacts it is having on the community, specifically Black males," says Nathan Norman.
“We are specifically responding to the recent loss of life of Evanston Black males through gun violence," Norman says, referring to the July 23 murder of Glenview resident Brian Carrion, 20, near the CTA Howard Red Line stop, the July 25 murder of 21-year-old DeaShawn Turner in the 2200 block of Emerson, and the July 26 murder of Andrew Williams in the 1900 block of Hartrey, the day before his 30th birthday.
"We are also concerned about social injustice, anti-Black racism and white supremacy, and how these social ills contribute to negative life outcomes for young Black men.”
Rudy Meo, 32, who in addition to coaching Varsity, also works with younger kids in a basketball feeder program and runs a travel program, says that his reach and the reach of the other members into the community will help the Alliance pull young men in.
"Nathan done a great job of bringing this specific group of people to the table to reach out to young people," Meo says. "We all have influence with young men in different ways."
Meo says that because he's on the younger side, he can can related to the kids. "I've been coaching basketball for seven years, so I have access and connection to young men on a daily basis."
Norman says the goal of the rally and walk is to show the Evanston community that Black Lives Matter, and to call on all Evanston resident to stand in solidarity by contributing time, talent, and much-needed resources to prevent further violence and contribute to the development and growth of young Black men in Evanston.
But the work won't stop with the rally.
The Alliance's specific call to action is to work in partnership with young Black men in Evanston to develop strategies and a plan to address their growth and development needs.
Nathan says that over the next five weekends, through community marches, cookouts, neighborhood walks, and one-on-one visits, he and other leaders will talk with Evanston's young men to develop community-based solutions to end the violence.
"Our goal is to produce a plan that can be shared with the City of Evanston, school districts, community-based organizations, business leaders, faith leaders, and individuals in the community that want to help our young men to develop life options and opportunities that affirm their humanity and produces positive life outcomes," says Norman.
Organizers encourage the entire community to show up on Friday night. Let them know you'll be there by joining their FB event page.
"This is about participation of everyone, but it's spearheaded by Black males who got together to protest violence and create an anti-violence movement," says Norman.
"This is a community thing. It's about positive presence."
The Alliance has partnered with Kulture Custodian, an Evanston-based apparel brand, to sell t-shirts at the rally that display positive messaging--"hugs not slugs," "unity," "community," "we care," "inspire," "change," "leadership," and more--with proceeds going toward the work they plan to do.
You can also purchase merchandize on Kulture Custodian's website.
If you're a community member, business owner, faith leader, education leader, or head of a nonprofit organization and you have time, talent, and resources to share to support young Black men, please reach out to Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org so he can add you to his list of Evanston residents who are willing to help move the needle toward empowering our young men and ending gun violence.
Read DE's story about Nathan Norman, "From the Streets to Prison, and Back to the Streets for Good.
Read DE's story about Maurice Wilkerson, "Born to Lose, Built to Win."
Read DE's story about Kevin Brown, "Kevin Brown Works to Reduce Gun Violence in Evanston."
Read DE's story about Jermey McCray, "A Person to Know."