Black community organizers in Winston-Salem are hosting a week of events intended to help people heal from the impacts of gun violence.
The week of healing was organized by Our Opportunity to Love & Heal, a Black-led coalition in Winston-Salem working to address gun violence.
The group is partnering with several other organizations in the area to offer activities like yoga, journaling, and open mics, all aimed at helping people heal from their trauma.
But according to Nakida McDaniel, one of the founders of the coalition, this week is also about what she calls “healing justice.”
“It’s deeper than, we're going to collectively, or individually heal our physical or emotional or mental wounds," McDaniel said. "There is some systemic and structural issues that have caused this harm. And so we cannot do the work of healing and leave out the piece of policy change.”
Last year, a group of Black community organizers interviewed 1,200 Black Winston-Salem residents about their adverse childhood experiences and environments.
Renai Wisley, with the Black Collective for Community Healing, said their findings pointed to the notion that poverty is the underlying cause of violence.
“Let's give people jobs, let's make sure people have food, let's make sure children are not falling under the notion that a gang is going to save them from being hungry tonight, because they don't have to do that," Wisley said. "There's too much money in the city and too much intelligence in the city, for us to keep perpetuating this cycle.”
McDaniel said the coalition also trains residents in advocacy and civic engagement, which she said is a necessary component of true healing.
“It is not just a "Kumbaya" moment. It is like, we have work to do," McDaniel said. "And we're showing up to do it. And we're bringing everybody in community with us. And we know we need partners to do it.”
The week’s events will begin on June 2 with a vigil, and end on June 9 with a block party where residents will share stories of what healing looks like for them.
Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.