On Saturday morning, the Peace and Education Coalition of Back of the Yards held a peace march from 48th and Seeley, the block where Leticia Barrera was killed last Halloween, to Seward Elementary at 46th between Hermitage and Wood. About 125 people turned out. As usual, political representation was strong: Mayor Daley, Police Supt. Jody Weis, State Rep. Esther Golar, other state reps and senators, and Ald. George Cardenas.
Most importantly, Families for the Community came out to let those politicos know what it is like to be the parent of a child in our neighborhood. Many of these parents are single mothers working two jobs to support their families. They try hard to raise their kids right, but too often they are left alone to do the job by themselves. "We're not crackhead alcoholics," said Bridgeport mother Lisa Rivera, in a front-page Sun-Times story that ran last Friday.
Oscar Contreras of Catholic Charities Street Intervention wrote a reflection about these mothers' experience which Bridgeport mom Lisa Rivera read at the march. Here is an excerpt:
Yes we know what our sons and daughters have become but a mother will always love her child. Even when society says I've done a bad job and the time comes when, God forbid, they are taken from us whether by a judge or by their own bad choices, we will be the ones left to visit jail and graves. There isn't anything we wouldn't do to change what they have become but no matter what, we will never give up, just as God has never given up on us. His love and mercy are unconditional even though time after time we continue to disappoint him.
I have written before and will write again here about two-parent families who struggle to raise their children to be good people, only to see them slide down the slippery slope into gangs, drugs, jail and death. We talk a lot about how it takes a village to raise a child, but too often here I see the most successful families adopting a turtle-like strategy: keep your kids in the house, send them out of the neighborhood for school, keep your own nose clean and don't get involved. The problem is, that works.
Those who want to build a village have their work cut out for them. I wish
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