The 100 Black Men of Atlanta hosted an Anti-Gun Violence Candlelight Vigil on April 20 at the King Center to commemorate those who have been affected by gun violence. 

The candlelight vigil is part of the organization’s anti-gun violence campaign, whose goal is to create awareness to reduce gun violence. The initiative received a $15,000 grant from Georgia Power to implement a mentoring program for students.

“Gun violence in America is an epidemic that’s been raging now for over 30 years, and it doesn’t just affect the black community,” Keith Millner, the chairman of the organization, explained. “It affects all communities.” 

The program features different modules that focus on how to reduce gun violence, create awareness, and offer alternative solutions, such as conflict resolution techniques, that students can use to prevent violence. The program recently launched at B.E.S.T. Academy and Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood.   

Joshua Byrd, committee chair for the Anti-Gun Violence Committee of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, said the group felt compelled to do something about gun violence.  

“We, the 100 Black Men of Atlanta exist to enhance the lives of African-American youth, especially those who live in the inner-cities, by serving as mentors; providing exposure and opportunities to improve their health and wellness, economic well-being and educational advancement,” he said. “However, none of this will occur if we allow violence — especially gun violence — to spread and fester. The devastating toll that gun violence is taking on our community compels us to act. What we believe is if we can get more community members behind it, more community members to focus on it and help join us in our efforts, we can start to reduce violence. Ultimately, it’s an education issue.” 

Representative Lucy McBath also spoke during Wednesday night’s ceremony, sharing the story of her son’s murder back in 2012. 

Martel Sharpe serves as the Director of Public Relations for The Atlanta Voice. He has been with the organization for three years. Martel began his time with The Atlanta Voice as a freelance writer before...