Women were prompted to be accountable for their part in the violence in order to stop the violence, and all were encouraged to vote in support of President Obama at the third annual Women’s Walk for a Peaceful Community 2010 on the North Side, Oct. 16.

“We joined together different neighborhoods, different cultures in one united voice for knowledge of peace. This was an opportunity to stop pointing fingers and blaming others for the realities of interpersonal, family and community violence,”said Ronell Guy, executive director of the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing.

WOMEN UNITED—Women from throughout the city came together to show their support for the Women’s Walk for Peace. (Photos by J.L. Martello)

“It’s time to share in the responsibility for the part we as mothers, grandmothers and girlfriends play in the perpetuation of violence. The walk begins the reality and acceptance and ends with the healing and the solutions. The walk is an opportunity to do your individual part for ‘Peace.’”

The purpose of the walk was to honor the spirit, strength and resilience of all women. It facilitated the connection of these women to others and to other organizations, according to the program. It will also allow them to share their gifts and to continue to work for a safe community. The walk was a model of several communities coming together to create an atmosphere of peace and nonviolence based on absolute respect for a human life and the human spirit.

The walk consisted of a two mile walk that began at the Limbaugh Center located at 816 Tripoli St. on the North Side and wound its way down North Avenue on to Brighton Road and continued to Pennsylvania Avenue all the way to the Manchester playground, where national and local speakers addressed the Peace Council discussions. National syndicated radio host Bev Smith was the keynote speaker. There was an appreciation concert with Grammy Award winner Chrisette Michele along with special guest Pittsburgh’s own Joy Ike. Donna Baxter and Terina Hicks from Soul Pitt Extra hosted the event.

The highlight was when Smith took the stage. As keynote speaker, she spoke about the Black community coming together as one and voting in November.

“No one cares about African-Americans and it is over for us in America if the Republicans get in office on Nov. 2. They will privatize SSI,” she said. “They will privatize public schools. They will cut our bread money and they will cut out public school money and do away with grants to you. Now this is your taxpayer dollars, and when I work it goes into a bucket and that bucket is supposed to be spent in America. It is not supposed to be spent on war or giving to bankers and lawyers and not put in the pockets of politicians. I have to say something and you know I’m straight up and I got to say it the way I want to say it. You have no choice in November but to vote Democrat and if you don’t go to vote, then you are a part of the problem because we can decide who runs this country. If you think the president runs this country, then you need a lesson in G.O. politics. The politicians run this country and the Republicans have made a commitment to run the Black man out of office. That is what the Tea Party is all about. You must vote and you must get out to vote. This is life or death and you don’t even have an idea what they have planned for African-Americans. You are no longer considered,” Smith said.

She closed her speech by telling the crowd to be accountable for their own actions and to be proud of their Black culture.

Patricia Parker, co-chair for the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing, said, “It was a great event this year and it was nice to see everyone come out for this important cause. We must stop the violence in our communities and do whatever it takes to make that happen. We are losing too many of our young people due to senseless violence and it must stop now.”

Al Gray, director of Street Outreach for One Vision, One Life, received an award from the group for the work he has contributed to the community.

“This event is important for the community because the women in our community need to be supported by the men in the community,” Gray said. “We need to support each other. We need to address domestic violence and other types of violence in our community and we should come together to do something positive to make that happen.”

English Burton, outreach liaison for the group, said this event is very important to the city of Pittsburgh.

“The purpose of the walk is for the community to focus on the violence in our communities and to walk through five neighborhoods, which took about 45 minutes,” said Burton. “Once all of the walkers arrived at Manchester Field, we all prayed together for peace and listened to the speakers and had entertainment to follow. The messages from the speakers are vital for the community to listen and take heed to because it’s about domestic, street and drug violence. Bev Smith’s message is always the same every year and it’s a great message of unity, strength and understanding of how we need to come together as a community. I want people to realize when they leave here that the community is ours and it does not belong to anyone else. The city, state and federal government are not going to address this problem. We need to address it ourselves. I also believe that the women in our communities will be the ones to eradicate the violence.”

Ronell Guy, executive director of the group, gave the welcome speech for the event. She has been a great visionary throughout the execution of the Women’s Walk for Peace. She constantly educates volunteers, committee members, funders and walkers on the fatalities of street and domestic violence. The Walk for Peace would not be possible without her leadership and dedication.

“We work with women in multi-family housing and many of them have children that have been victimized or perpetrators of teen violence and many of them are also victims of domestic violence,” Guy said. “We spend all year trying to build these women’s self-esteem and get their pride back and the walk for peace is a day for them to do that. This is about women learning to own their power. I know women who sit in the bar on a daily basis in deep clinical depression and on the day of the walk, they don’t have to do that. I know some people just say it for the day, but this is a feeling that can lift you up and take you throughout the year.

“When people leave here today, I want them to know that they have some power and we don’t blame them but we support them. We have to take accountability for what is happening in our neighborhood because there is no ‘prevention fairy’ that is going to fall out of the sky. We must take action to stop the violence ourselves.

“It starts at home and we must start raising our children in the right way the day they are born.”

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