By Ryan Ngala
[Harlem, New York] – With the overall students and staff members in this community based program at the Harlem Children’s Zone, they were ready to prepare themselves in this movement event that can stop the end of violence not only in the streets of New York but also in our homes, but at this event could end the violence of many loved ones whose lives have been lost forever and hopefully that it’s send a message to many New Yorkers that violence must be stop once and for all.
It was a gorgeous sunny day, as me and the CSO (College Success Office) group had left the building at 3:45, to wait for further instructions as we headed out and off we went to go to 134th Street the CSO group was walking their way there throughout park avenue, Madison avenue, and 5th Avenue at 135th street as soon as they got to their destination on 134th Street and 7th Avenue between the site building of HCZ’s Truancy Prevention and Project Class and Learn to Earn program site.
We was the last group on the line behind Learn to Earn, ETC (Employment and Technology Center) and many other HCZ site group who were above us, when the peace march rally had started to begin some young teens were on the sidewalk so I thought that this was not what the CSO group had in mind, they were supposed to be marching in the street, but not on the sidewalk so they wanted to start all over as they have them to do it all over again, so when the march rally was about to start, we started to walk.
“Let’s go, CSO” said Kim, I was from behind many students so that I know where I was going and I won’t get lost, as we walk to the scene as we turn on 134th Street and 7th Avenue at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and as they walk to 136th Street they begin to chant with their big high voice as they possible could as they started to said “Were gonna shout it out, Peace is what it’s all about”, “We are the future, Don’t you agree?, Stop the violence on kids like me!!!”, “Money for Schools, not for jails.”, and “Marching through the zone to save our own!”.
They started to chant all the way as they were headed to the Harlem Armory as banners, and posters were being held up high and once they were waiting to be letting students inside of the armory, they must have their peace march t-shirt on or otherwise they can’t come in without having it to come off, so as they went inside the armory and up the steps they go as they climb through the stairs from the first floor waiting for many HCZ students and staff to get pass by until they were able to find a seat, as I spotted my site group from CSO and also Tina who put water bottles in a pack of ice so that it can stay cool, the ceremony was about to begin in 5 minutes and as everyone were about to sit down, the ceremony was about to begin.
In the auditorium, when people saw their program logos coming up on a big projector screen, they shouted out the name of their own site group among the different HCZ programs such as ETC (Employment & Technology Center), CSO (College Success Office), Countee Cullen Community Center, Truce Media, Truce Fitness, Learn To Earn, and many more. The shouting continued as audience members started to shout out the names of different HCZ programs represented by individuals who were starting to perform on the big stage. Booker T. Washington reps were doing the salsa on stage and many flags were being waived by the staff members of Booker T., After their performance, the audience gave them a big round of applause. Some HCZ participants were busy taking great pictures including Will Weeks and me. The event was a great show with some great performers representing Learn to Earn, Truce Media, ETC (Employment & Technology Center) and many others.
But what really did struck me was a performance by the group from Countee Cullen: they performed a cover song to Eminem's "I'm Not Afraid." Their message was about decreasing violence and promoting world peace in this community; they mourned the victims who have lost their lives because of gun violence. Another impressive performance was by the group from the Learn to Earn site program; they did a cover up to a song of Meek Mill's "Amen", adding their own version of the lyrics that told of the violence that is going today. They also mentioned of the HCZ programs in their lyrics.
When the performances were completed, the winners among the students of each HCZ programs were announced. These were students who had participated in a 3 day event of the HCZ summer games. The winners were Promise Academy 1 and 2, Peacemakers North and South, Countee Cullen Community Center, A Cut Above and Booker T. Washington. Next it was the time for a moment of silence for the fallen victims who have lost their lives in the violence era; they are gone but not forgotten. Finally, HCZ President and CEO Geoffrey Canada spoke on behalf of the fallen victims including young ones like Scotty Scott and many others. HCZ staff members held up their candles high up in their hands for the victims who have been lost to violence. They are sorely missed; Many students at the rally wrote on a piece of paper the names of the fallen victims they missed the most. When the HCZ peace march event was all over, every HCZ site group saw the names of each two fallen victims projected on the big screen.