'Keep their memory alive': Jackson residents can contribute to gun violence memorial

A photograph. A sports jersey. A graduation tassel.

Those are personal items that may remind Jackson residents of a family member or friend lost to gun violence.

As part of a national effort to remember victims of such violence, residents can contribute memorial items this weekend for the Gun Violence Memorial Project.

"It's an opportunity to keep their memory alive," said Jackie Jackson, a pastor and gun violence survivor from Cincinnati, Ohio. "It's an opportunity for people around the world to see our family members lived."

The items can be donated at Different World Church on Friday and Saturday.

Jackson will be in the capital city at the collection events to work with anyone who would like to donate an item.

Bricks display the name of gun violence victims and contain items to remember that person. The victims range in age and their deaths were across several decades. These mementos are part of the Gun Violence Memorial Project in Washington D.C., which is collecting donations from communities such as Jackson to memorialize more people.

Organizers are asking for objects that represent the person. It could be a small toy, accessories, books or items related to the person's talents and hobbies.

The local collection event is hosted by Different World Church, New Bethel AME Church and Everytown for Gun Safety, a national nonprofit that focuses on gun violence prevention.

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The Gun Violence Memorial Projects defines a gun-related death as any resulting from a firearm, including homicide, suicide, domestic violence, police-involved shootings and unintentional shootings.

Why collect items from Jackson?

Jackson, from Everytown for Gun Safety, said there hasn't been a memorial item collection event in Mississippi before. He suggested coming to the capital city after reading about its record number of 155 homicides in 2021.

"Yeah, we need to go to Jackson," he remembers thinking.

To date for 2022, the city has had nearly 40 homicides, according to the Jackson police department. Many of those homicides have involved a gun.

When looking for a community to visit to collect memorial items, Jackson said Everytown looks at places that have been hit hard by gun violence and have community partners.

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During collection events around the country, Jackson said he has heard stories from families about their loved ones and gun violence.

"No matter how many times you hear a family talk about it, it still gets to you," he said. "It's different cities, different people, but the hurt, the pain, the trauma is still there."

Jackson has his own experiences with gun violence.

He survived a shooting as a 10-year-old. Years later, his son survived a shooting during an attempted robbery. Eight of Jackson's family members have died of gun violence in Cincinnati and six have been injured by guns.

Jackson residents and public safety officials marched through downtown Jackson on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, to unite the community to fight against violent crime.

Exhibit's goal is to recognize gun violence nationwide, help families heal

The memorial is currently on display in Washington, D.C., at the National Building Museum through May 2023.

That exhibition is four houses made out of 700 glass bricks. Each brick represents an individual, and each house represents the average number of lives lost to gun violence each week in America, according to a description for the project.

"This is an extremely small example of saying this is what gun violence is," Jackson said.

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Items such as graduation tassels, mugs, painted rocks and more are already displayed.

There are objects for five of Jackson's family members in the memorial.

The project and memorial helps preserve individuals' memories and show the magnitude of gun violence nationwide, according to a description of the project. The goal is to help people heal by recognizing their collective loss and the impact of gun violence on society.

Architecture firm MASS Design Group and artist Hank Willis Thomas partnered together to create the memorial and partnered with Everytown and Purpose Over Pain, a Chicago group started by parents who lost children to gun violence.

Jackson residents can contribute to the Gun Violence Memorial Project in Washington D.C. The exhibit is four houses of glass bricks, each one remembering a person who has died from gun violence and containing mementos of that person. The 700 bricks represent the number of people who died on average from gun violence nationwide. The project is on display through May 2023.

How to contribute to the memorial

Residents can bring items to Different World Church at 5240 Manhattan Road, Jackson. Register in advance at https://bit.ly/38xDs6T.

The collection dates and times are:

  • Friday from 3-7 p.m.

  • Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The registration form asks for contact information and people can indicate whether they identify as a gun violence survivor.

For more information about how to contribute an object, visit wwww.gunviolencememorialproject.org

See the Gun Violence Memorial Project

The National Building Museum is located at 401 F St. NW, Washington, D.C.

Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays through Mondays.

Information about tickets and other exhibits can be found at nbm.org/visit

Reporter Mina Corpuz can be reached by email at mcorpuz@gannett.com. You can follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Jackson residents can give to project remembering gun violence victims