Services and vigils were held in three different locations for Jeron Grayson, who was shot to death Oct. 17. Students gathered Thursday night to remember Grayson who was shot at a party near the California University campus. Friends and classmates sang songs and lit candles before walking across town to Mechanic Street to the site where he was shot and killed.
|A LOVED ONE LOST—The Grayson family and friends surround the casket of Jeron Grayson. (Photo by Ashley G. Woodson)
The wake was held Wednesday at Wesley Center AMEZ Church from 4-8 p.m. and the line of people from all over came out to pay their respects. Hundreds of mourners stood in line for more than five hours to pay their respect to the family. City officials and Pastors from other churches were also in attendance along with students from Schenley High School, Hampton University and California State University.
“This is a very tragic situation here and initially when I heard about the shooting, I did not know that it was Rev. (Glenn) Grayson’s son. When it hits home like this, it makes it very difficult to understand because it’s senseless,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. “We are going to continue to do what we do by taking guns off the streets. There are a lot of people involved in this situation that have lost a brother, cousin or a friend and enough is enough. We have to take responsibility and encourage people that they are brighter days ahead. We used to solve problems with our fists and some where it got out of hand with guns. Guns are not the answer to any problem.”
Positive messages where told to everyone about stopping the violence in our community from various speakers who attended the service. Rev. Grayson and his oldest sone Glenn Grayson Jr., gave a word of hope to everyone who attended the funeral by informing everyone to put the guns down. Grayson, Jr., said too many families have lost loved ones as he made a plea to the people who attended to stop the violence.
“Basically we have to stick to what we know and that is to continue to help others. The devil has tried to destroy our family, but we will practice what we preach and be an inspiration for others as we continue on,” Grayson, Jr said.
Jeron came back home to Pittsburgh from Kiski Prep Academy and transferred to Schenley High School in the fall of 2008. He was an athlete who blossomed at Schenley. He was a licensed life guard at the age of sixteen. He joined the track, basketball and football teams respectively and in his senior year he was very instrumental in leading his football team to the City Championship and was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 City Championship game.
He was gifted and witty and he lit up a room with his infectious smile. His parents reflected. He had a knack for relating to people and he had the most swag at Schenley High School. He could carry the “Polo Swag” like no one could and he knew it. He definitely knew how to put his clothes together. He had two cars for the prom because that’s just how he rolled. He turned down other scholarships because he wanted to go to Hampton University. He broke with tradition by not following his siblings and many other cousins who attended Winston-Salem University, but he decided to follow his dream to attend Hampton University.
“Initially he talked about becoming an Engineer and owning his own construction company. He ended up playing it safe and became a business major instead,” Marsha Grayson, his mother, said. “ When he came home on Friday, Oct. 15 after surviving a major car accident he was very clear on what his calling was and that was to take “CARES” global. CARES is our after school program that lifts up the youth in our community.
“After surviving the accident he mentioned that he has his own testimony because he never had one before. Jeron was such a jokester and so comedic that when he returned home and hugged me, he screamed as if he was in pain, but then said I gotcha. In the short time that he has been at Hampton University, he has made such an impact. It’s typical to get phone calls from the administration to express condolences to families of loved ones who have passed away. In addition, there was a service being held in his honor and the student body at Hampton dressed up in Polo attire in honor of Jeron. I could see if he was a junior or a senior or someone who has been there awhile, but his presence and how he rolled made a major impact on everyone.
“On one hand you don’t understand why God has taken Jeron away, but God is solvent and what we should take away from this is that we don’t want his life to go in vain, “ Rev. Grayson said. “We will continue to be champions for justice and advocates for stopping the violence in our communities. About two months ago when I buried a young man I realized that we need more think tanks and more proactive measures and accountability and intervention.”
“The problem is once you have a criminal record, so many doors are closed for you. There are people that have made mistakes in the past that apply for jobs and try to get housing and the doors are immediately shut,” Marsha Grayson said. “They can be opened again. There is a process that they have to go through first, but immediately it is shut and when that happens, it gives them a sense of hopelessness. A lot of people have the attitude of “whatever” because they are not going to help me anymore. I work with the Pennsylvania bar and one of the things that we are working on is helping young people get there records expunged. If we can get attorneys to work together one on one with the youth to get those records expunged, it should open up some doors for these young people. We need to take away some of the hopelessness so the youth can see that there is a brighter future ahead. Our family has always taken in people and housed them out of our own pockets and not the churches money. I remember summers where it was nothing to go to the grocery store and my bill was $500 for our immediately family. With the extra people we had living with us; we spent $200 to $300 extra. It’s always an opportunity to witness when your life is going to end. We are not promised tomorrow so if you don’t know Christ, then you need to get to know him when it’s your time.”
“He was like a brother to us and he had a great impact a lot of people. This is crazy and all of these people came out to show him love and pay their respects. I think that is legacy will carry on from what I’m witnessing here today. Everyone needs to try to make a difference. We are going to keep his legacy alive and lead by example,” a friend Kim Ward said.
“I’m really concerned about the psychological impact this trauma is having on the children in our community. If you visit their Face Book pages, you’ll see rest in peace all over the page from four different people. As a community, we need to make sure that these children are being healed from all of this violence and death”, said Marimba Milliones.
“After I heard that Keith Jones was arrested, there was some peace and calmness in my spirit. Also in my spirit, I didn’t get the sense that he was a really bad kid, but he represented some of the same type of children t
hat are in our afterschool program “CARES”. We both lost a son and I will continue to pray for them and their family as wel,” said Rev. Grayson.
In honor of Jeron Xavier Grayson a scholarship fund called “Jeron Cares” has been set up through Wesley Center AMEZ’s non-profit organization for youth, The Center That Cares. You can honor Jeron’s life by making a contribution payable to this special fund through “The Center That Cares”. Please write “Jeron Cares” in the memo line. Send to: Wesley Center AMEZ Church—The Center That Cares, ATTENTION: “Jeron Cares”, 2701 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.