2020 has been a difficult year for all of us. We have lost family members and loved ones to COVID-19, many of us have lost jobs, we have had to make incredible sacrifices just to get by, the normal business of day to day life has been anything but normal for far too long.
The doors to our churches, our gathering spaces and our schools, pillars of our collective community, have been shut in an effort to limit the spread of COVID 19. This weekend was a reminder of just how important community is, even when we must remain socially distant.
With all that has happened, our young people seem to have borne the brunt of much of these difficulties. Students across the state have not had the opportunity to be around friends and peers, they have missed out on key moments of their young lives and across the city, we have seen an dramatic increase in violence that has overwhelmingly involved youth. Southwest Denver in particular has seen and felt that violence close to home. Since January, we have experienced over 200 different incidents involving gun violence. We have lost nearly 20 of our community members.
This weekend our community came together in response to all that has happened around us. As part of our community we helped to construct an ofrenda with our elders as a way to honor those who we have lost, it was a moment to grieve, to heal and to remind ourselves and our neighbors that we have the strength to thrive.
This weekend was not only a moment to honor those who have passed but to also celebrate those still with us. Working with community organizations, the schools at the Kepner Campus, and local artists we started a mural project for our youth to help instill a sense of pride and hope, one that they will be able to tell their kids for years to come “I helped create THAT”. Our culture and traditions offered prayer and ceremony that helped to bring a sense of normalcy that we have been missing. We marched from Huston Lake, down Federal Boulevard , back to our schools and our altar to remember those we have lost. But this weekend was the not the end, it is just the beginning, our community knows what it must do to thrive, to take care of our own and ensure that those who have been taken from us did not die in vain and that we do not continue to grieve. This weekend served as a call to action to work together and determine our own reality.