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Sadiqa speaks at the podium at an event
Black History Month

Sadiqa N. Reynolds: As gun violence increases, so does the loss of potential

Black History Month

This Black History Month, we recognize the importance of Black leadership, advocacy, and resilience in the gun violence prevention movement. Throughout February, we’ll be highlighting the important work of Black Americans who are on the front lines of fighting the gun violence crisis in their communities.

I run the Louisville Urban League, a civil rights organization in Kentucky focusing on jobs, justice, education, health, and housing. We stand in the gap for those we serve, whether it is helping to access rent payments, unemployment benefits, job training, or COVID testing. We do what we have to do. 

I am involved in this work because I think it is life-changing work. We need to focus on changing outcomes for our communities and connecting the violence that is happening back to the policies created to break our communities and keep us from accessing services.

We help our clients gain access to mental health counseling, and we address the issues and impacts of racism in our community, which includes gun violence. The trauma of gun violence is not isolated to families that lose a loved one—it is also felt by the family of the perpetrator. We arrange counseling for the loved ones of those engaged on both ends of the violence because we know the pain runs deeper than the homicide. As gun violence increases, so does the loss of potential, and that is traumatic not only for the family of the loved ones but for a community in need.

The trauma of gun violence is not isolated to families that lose a loved one—it is also felt by the family of the perpetrator.

The successes motivate me to keep doing this work—the lives saved, the families moved into stable jobs and housing, the seniors who feel supported in taking care of their grandchildren. You can never measure the lives that are saved. Very few people can access the information that leads to the data that will tell you how many people didn’t commit suicide because you were there or how many didn’t kill someone because you are there because of your work. I am motivated because I get to see and hear many of those stories and I am clear on the difference we are making. 

Throughout the course of my work, there have been too many memorable interactions to mention, but we had a recent one that is top of mind. We helped stabilize housing for a victim of gun violence. He had 24 hours to find resources and we were able to help. 

The advice I have for others working as advocates in this space is to stay the course. Never forget to remind policy makers about the impact of bad policy. Hopelessness leads to violence.

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