There is an issue that needs to be addressed in this country. An issue that cuts across race, class and region. At the root of it all is the easy access to guns that affects small towns and big cities, that touches us here in New York as much as Aurora, Colorado and has increased the mortality rate in places such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Baton Rouge.
Let’s put a name to the numbers. Hadiya Pendleton was a 15-year-old Chicago high schooler who was shot and killed on a playground just a week after marching in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade. She was a bright light in a city too often dogged by ominous darkness. Her death inspired her friends and family to wear orange to remember her life, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others. During our 9th annual Roots Picnic, we at Okayplayer partnered up with Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that helped lead a coalition to take what started on the South Side of Chicago into a national movement.
America, you and your citizens are actively working together to end gun violence, build safer communities and educate the masses on why common-sense steps are necessary in this country. To show how serious we are about strengthening the gun laws in this country, we invited the stars, musicians and celebrities who made our Roots Picnic in Philadelphia to join us in the fight to end gun violence in America. People like Jada Pinkett-Smith, her daughter Willow Smith, our own First Look Friday subjects Chloe x Halle and our fearless leader, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson have all signed on to lend their voices and platforms to join the fight. It shouldn’t take the death of Hadiya Pendleton or any of the tens of thousands of people who die from gun violence each year to spark the changes that we are pushing for today.
According to Everytown, 51 women are shot to death by intimate partners in an act of domestic violence in an average month. Seven children and teens are killed daily with guns in the U.S. These are more than enough reasons to call for gun reform, yet we already know that Washington gun lobbyists and the NRA are betting against change. We believe our collective voices can still be stronger than the dollars spent in silencing them. We and the special individuals represented in this gallery are challenging you, America, to wear orange in tribute to Hadiya Pendleton’s life and raise awareness and to join the nonprofit’s campaign to speak out against gun violence.
Just take a look at the sea of faces in our slideshow above and see how they are representative of more than 3 million other Americans who are working together to end gun violence. This is an Everytown issue, an Every-American issue. If you’ve lost someone close to you to gun violence, we invite you to share your story in the comments section below—and we ask you to join your voice with ours.