Rev. Harry Louis Williams joins a diverse group of community residents for "The Gunfire Gathering" which takes place Jan. 16.
Imagine losing a family member to a senseless act of violence? Sadly, for many Oakland residents, this horrible scenario is a reality.
of Oakland have claimed the lives of so many young people this past year. For
the fathers, mothers and families of those who have become victims
of homicide, the question that always comes to mind is "why?"
In response to the tragic events that have victimized residents of Oakland, particularly the loved ones of the three toddlers that were gunned down last year, and the fact that the murder rate in Oakland continues to rise, an eclectic group of activists, ministers and community leaders created a free event coined "The MLK Day Stop The Gunfire Gathering" - an organized coalition meeting intended to stop the violence in the streets of Oakland.
Regeneration Church, located at 238 E. 15th St. in Oakland, will be the location of the gathering and will be held on Jan. 16, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, which is Jan. 15. The event starts at 10 a.m.
"This event will bring people from the political structure together with folks from the nonprofits," Rev. Harry Louis Williams II, an activist and minister at the Allen Temple Baptist Church in East Oakland, said. "We are going to bring many different voices to the table."
Williams, a long-time Oakland resident who will give the keynote address at the event, said that the idea for the gathering began gradually.
"I am a student of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and wanted to have a celebration in honor of his birthday this year," he said. "So I told 20 of my friends about the idea, and then word quickly spread around the Bay. Everyone associated with this event has been involved in combating violence here in Oakland for many years."
Some of the speakers at the gathering include Brenda Grisham of the Christopher LaVell Jones Foundation; activist Cesar Cruz; pastor Mustafa Muhyee; and female rapper Queen Deelah. The "MLK Day Gunfire Gathering" also will consist of Gospel music, poetry, hip hop and positive messages.
"This program is designed to bring a lot of young teenagers together," Williams said. "We want to reach the heart of young people and want to give them a voice. They are the key to fighting crime in Oakland."
At the conclusion of the event, residents, community members and officials will have the chance to get to know one another in a networking session, as well as partake in prayer services.
"Powerful," Williams said in response to choosing one word to describe MLK Day.
"It is going to voice hope and change and be a network of peace where people leave with a plan. And everyone doesn't need to be from Oakland, we are all in this together," he said. "People from all over the Bay Area ... come and join us."
For more information, please visit revharrywilliams.com.
If You Go
The MLK Day Stop the Gunfire Gathering
What: Free event intended to both fight crime in Oakland and celebrate the memory and life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
When: 10 a.m. Jan. 16
Where: 238 E. 15th St. in Oakland