An Interview With Gun Violence Prevention Advocate, Calandrian Simpson Kemp
Tell us about how you are involved in the gun violence prevention movement.
I joined the gun violence prevention movement after my 20 year old son, George Harold Kemp Jr. was murdered in September 2013. I started out volunteering and attending meetings with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and now my volunteering focuses on helping other survivors join the movement, too.
What about your son’s murder motivated you to get involved in the gun violence prevention movement
I wanted to know how the guns used to kill my son were accessed. Were they purchased legally or illegally? As I reflected on these questions, it really hit me how Black and brown men are being shot and killed at an alarmingly high rate, especially African American males between the age of 15–24.
My son was 20! In some ways, he is now partially a statistic and I am motivated to make changes that stop children from becoming statistics. My son is like fuel to my grieving heart and has propelled me to dedicate my life to advocate in communities of color, which are often disproportionately underserved in gun violence prevention. My goal is to end gun violence through training and education by encouraging survivors, families, and friends to get involved by advocating for common-sense gun laws. My son, George is my “Heavenly Mentor” and will guide me to use my voice to be a beacon of hope to those who are grieving and a window to those who have the power to effect change.
What brought you to the Everytown Survivor Network?
I joined the Everytown Survivor Network because there’s a deep sense of community among those who have had a loved one taken by gun violence. Soon, I was asked to work with other survivors in Texas because I had already created a network of gun violence survivors through The Village of Mothers, an online support group I started of parents who share a hope of a world without violence.
What inspires you about the people connect with through The Village of Mothers?
I am inspired by the will of the parents to fight for justice and accountability for their children who no longer have a voice.
What do you feel is most impactful about the work you do with Moms Demand Action?
It allows me to speak for my son and thousand of others who have been silenced, by advocating for gun sense legislation that can help end senseless deaths. Recently, I spoke in front of a crowd of more than 20,000 people at the Women’s March in Houston, standing beside my sisters with Moms Demand Action.
What’s next for you in the fight to end gun violence?
I am currently still fighting in the courts for those who murdered my son to be held accountable. However, I will continue to speak out and help families in the Village of Mothers and Fathers to be empowered by their stories to and know they are survivors.
Is there anything else you’d like to share concerning your work with the gun violence prevention movement?
Outside of volunteering with Moms Demand Action, I am a member of local grassroots organizations to educate young people and their communities about gun violence prevention: No More Bloodshed Peace Walk Movement and One Houston One Hood School Empowerment Initiative. I am the founder of the Village of Mothers and Fathers Support Groups and The No Weapon #1Life Empowerment Foundation, whose focus is to end gun violence through training and education.