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Salaam Day Peace Day in South Shore Chicago

By FinalCall.com News | Last updated: Jul 29, 2014 - 5:52:26 PM

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Event tied to solving violence, building community, showcasing youth

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Youth and adult members of State of Emergency and the Movement of People for Peace in Woodhull Park. Photo: David L. Spearman

CHICAGO - “Salaam Day-Peace Day” was a gathering devoted to unity, celebrating youth, promoting peace, combating violence and organizing residents in this South Side neighborhood that boasts access to beaches, access to the city’s famed Lakefront, parks, a golf course and excellent transportation.

The South Shore neighborhood also has its challenges and organizers of Salaam Day-Peace Day are working to overcome the challenges and transform their neighborhood. “Salaam” is the Arabic word for peace and event organizers wanted everyone to feel welcome, whether Muslim, Christian or of any or no faith tradition. The organizers of Salaam Day-Peace Day include different faith traditions.

This afternoon of food, fun, music, performances and basketball took place July 26 at Woodhull Park, located at East End Avenue and 73rd St., and in the shadow of the Nation of Islam’s Mosque Maryam.

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Momma Edie Armstrong, a renowned storyteller, kicked off the day by sharing folktales while colorfully dressed in an African outfit. She used African instruments and folktales to engage children and adults.

The day was an old-fashioned gathering with families, residents and guests. State of Emergency, which is an initiative of Movement of the People for Peace, organized the event and welcomed everyone in and around South Shore to come out and enjoy food, games and love.

Mosque Maryam’s Ministry of Health offered free blood pressure screenings and glucose checks, while More Like Christ Church, members of the Nation of Islam, The Final Call newspaper, ABJ Community Services and local businesses helped make the day a success. A couple hundred people enjoyed the afternoon as Deejay Mecca spun tunes.

Young people and mentors who are working summer jobs in the community came out to staff the event and enjoy the fun, too.

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During the event residents made a pledge to promote peace. Lauren Brady announced the 30-Day Peace Campaign for social media, which calls for posting peaceful messages for 30 days. Youth were encouraged to join the effort and use hashtag #30peacechallenge on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

“We wanted to give South Shore residents, especially our children, a vision of what peace looks like, what community looks like. We wanted to celebrate our children, our families and our neighborhood,” said Victoria Brady of State of Emergency, which is based in South Shore.

This was the first event organized by State of Emergency South Shore, which has young people at the table planning and executing strategies and events.

“We have supported other groups, but this is our groundbreaking event designed to promote a strong sense of unity and peace,” explained Ms. Brady, a longtime advocate and trainer of youth through ABJ Community Services, Inc., and Ray of Hope Center for the Arts.

“I am proud to be part of this effort to create peace in a real way and to develop young leaders,” said James Andrews, youth member of M.O.P.P. He drew applause from the crowd while performing spoken word. His piece was titled “The Black KKK.”

“We need positive alternatives and opportunities for youth and want to begin effective community organizing on important issues. We also want to support existing programs that are doing good things in the neighborhood,” added Richard B. Muhammad of State of Emergency South Shore. He lives in South Shore and has worked to try to improve the community. He is also editor of The Final Call newspaper.

Salaam Day-Peace Day was also the first event in a partnership between State of Emergency and supervisor Ivry Neal of the Chicago Park District’s Woodhull Park.

State of Emergency holds meetings every Thursday at 6 p.m. at ABJ Community Services, Inc., at 1818 E. 71st St. in Chicago. To join or support the peace and community building effort, call (773) 667-2100 or (312) 480-9775 for more information.

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