NY Peace Coalition Speech 11/30/11
First, I would like to express gratitude for giving me the platform to share my story and my intention for Peace in our community. When I received the invitation I was not sure what to bring forth. However, through the training I’m receiving as an Interfaith Seminary Student I learned to Let Go, Let God.
I always wanted to speak about the injustices I was experiencing in my life but fear always set in. The conversation I would have with myself would be “They won’t listen; you will be ignored and rejected. You don’t have support; you’re not a public speaker, you don’t know about Politics, you don’t have a college degree.” Until the most tragic thing happened in my life…my son was murdered. This was the turning point that broke my Silence.
I could not understand how for 38 years I was a magnet for Violence, but continued to be an instrument of Peace; until I met many women that also had experienced the same pain and suffering that I had, it was then that I realized how many families I was helping by sharing my story.
I was born in an environment full of poverty, violence and drugs but I chose to continue to go to school and get a job at age 12. I was a pregnant teen that continued to go to College and work while being a victim of Domestic Violence. I decided to leave the relationship when all my fingers on my hand were fractured, and realized that this was not the life I wanted for my son. Then I became a single parent; to financially support us I needed to withdraw from College to work 2-3 jobs. I always had an Entrepreneurial Spirit and one of the jobs turned into a business. I became a successful business woman in Hunts Point Market; importing up to 15 loads of produce a week from Latin America. Unfortunately, after 7 years of continued success I was financially raped and in 6 months I lost my business, home, car and all the savings I had accumulated all those years. I was financially raped “AFTER” I was acknowledged and recognized as a woman breaking down barriers in a male dominated industry. After all my losses, I still continued. I worked two jobs, one as a broker and another as a Residential Counselor in a Girls shelter. The drive was that I needed to do the best I can so that my son can get his education and be all he wanted to be. Londell was an A student at Mt. St. Michael Academy, preparing for College Fall 2011. His Dream was to enroll in Pace University’s Accelerated Program for Accounting/Business Administration, while interning at Morgan Stanley. He wanted to be a Business Investor on Wall St., a real estate investor and he also enjoyed Music. He expressed wanting to also participate in the Music industry. I always encouraged him; I could see the Entrepreneur in him. He always said “I AM” he never said “I think or maybe.” Although, my son knew ALL I had been through he knew I was a Warrior. He would say “Ma, I’m going to be somebody, I’m learning from the Best. When I make it, you won’t need anything.” On December 4, 2010 Londell’s life was cut short; while I was in class reciting a closing prayer, Londell had been murdered.
After class as I was listening to the voice messages that were left by my mother. A classmate asked me “Are you working tonight?” because I work graveyard shift at the Girls Shelter. I answered “Yes” but I was not referring to my job as a Residential Counselor; I was referring to the job that God had assigned to me. Regardless of the pain and suffering I had been through all my life, I kept promoting Peace and Love through Faith and Forgiveness because my Heart would not let me turn that away.
The day before Thanksgiving I received this letter that reads: (Read letter attached)
I don’t believe that I could go on, if I did not believe that God was giving me the strength and Peace I needed so that I can share with others. Through my life I realized that nobody teaches us to face suffering. In this society we never talk about it until it hits home; I hope that my story can raise awareness so that it don’t have to hit home for other people. Hopefully, we can be conscious and be proactive instead of reactive.
Violence is a disease it does not know Religion, Race, Gender, Age or Social Status. It is no longer about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If it is not stopped it will spread like a wildfire and destroy us; which is what is happening today all over the World. We need to come to the understanding that we are all seeking Peace; this is about saving Humanity, protecting and educating the future generations.
I believe that the Peace that I have cultivated through Faith and Forgiveness is precisely what is needed for social action. Violence needs to be addressed as a whole; it is a social, economic, spiritual and educational issue. We need to understand that Revenge, Resentment and anger will only lead to destruction. It is said “That revenge and hate toward someone is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person will die.” Collaboration is needed; we need to bring our best to the table to Promote Peace and begin the Healing Process. We don’t realize it but our greatest work is done every day when we participate in our communities and come along side with people that share the same vision. Peace comes from supporting each other, bringing the TRUE PEACEFUL YOU and working as a collective.
The intention I set forth today is for PEACE, to continue saving lives just as Londell has, and the UNDERSTANDING that our sufferings, challenges and failures are not meant to destroy us. They are meant to strengthen us, to build character and to give fortitude to accomplish our God Given Destiny. In closing I would like to share a statement from the book “A Return to Love” that Nelson Mandela mentioned in his 1994 Inaugural Speech: (read attached)
Again, thank you for giving me the platform to “Speak my Peace.”