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On December 14, 2012, 20 children between six and seven years old were gunned down in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. It was far from the first school shooting in the country, but there was a collective sense that something would be done. We had to take on the gun problem in this country.
But nothing happened.
Since that day, there have been 2,186 more mass shootings in the United States. Meanwhile in Chicago, our eyes glaze over as we read the headlines: “10 Shot Overnight,” “47 Shot Over Holiday Weekend,” “Girl, 8, Wounded In Park Shooting.”
How do you stay engaged when an issue feels so hopeless? How do you protect your community without putting yourself in danger? How can we change the way we talk about gun violence to counter false truths pumped out by the NRA and so-called Second Amendment defenders?
This month on The Girl Talk, we welcome Pam Bosley and Tamar Manasseh, two women who have worked for years to stop gun violence in Chicago, continuing their mission even after shootings wounded or killed people they loved dearly.
The gun issue seems too big, too scary, too impossible — how can we help women like Pam and Tamar carry on this fight? What can we do in our own communities to bring about change, even on a local level?
The Girl Talk is a monthly show on the fourth Tuesday of the month hosted by Block Club Chicago co-founder Jen Sabella and public education activist and former CPS teacher Erika Wozniak Francis. It’s produced by media strategist Joanna Klonsky. Each month, we feature influential Chicago women and gender nonconforming individuals fighting for social justice. All are welcome to take part in these important conversations.
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Pam Bosley graduated from Olivet University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and spent more than 20 years in the world of banking. But after one of her sons, Terrell Bosley, was shot and killed on the grounds of a church April 4, 2006, she changed directions to make a difference in the lives of youth and of parents whose children were taken by violence.
As St. Sabina’s Violence Prevention Manager, Bosley has empowered young people to be leaders and self-advocates, guiding them to discover their own voices and abilities to bring change to their communities. Bosley is also the co-founder of Purpose Over Pain, an organization founded to support parents who children lives were taken by violence, advocate for common sense gun measures, and provide a safe space and mentorship for youth. She also is the President and founder of The Terrell Bosley Anti-Violence Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping youth and families in need.
Bosley has been featured in a number of magazines, including Jet and Sister Sister, as well as a novel titled How Long Will I Cry and the documentaries Under the Gun and Making a Killing.
Bosley believes that since her son Terrell can no longer speak, she is now his voice. Together, she says, we can change the narrative of our youth and our communities by ending senseless gun violence.
Tamar Manasseh Founder & President Mothers Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK)
Following the shooting death of Lucille Barnes in 2015, Tamar Manasseh, a mother of 2 who grew up in Englewood and now lives in Bronzeville, rallied several other mothers and established MASK (Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings). In the summer of 2015, Manasseh and other parents in the community took to their local corner daily to let everyone know that they’re watching.
MASK’s purpose is to put eyes on the streets, interrupt violence and crime, and teach children to grow up as friends rather than enemies. MASK’s primary mission is to build stronger communities through a focus on violence prevention, food insecurity, and housing. Additionally, MASK partners to ensure that community members have access to necessary city services, opportunities for education & professional skills growth, and economic development.
Manasseh has also helped launch MASK initiatives in other Chicago neighborhoods, as well as cities throughout the nation, including Evansville, Indiana, Staten Island, New York, and Memphis, Tennessee