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Future leaders call for promenade of peace during 5th annual Juneteenth Peace Walk

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Youth in the Martindale Brightwood neighborhood are taking a stand, and a walk, for peace.

For the last five years, KIPP Indy has hosted the Juneteenth Peace Walk “to provide our youth with an opportunity to promote peace,” said Martha Cortes, Chief Partnerships Officer for KIPP Indy Public Schools.

Barato Britt, president and CEO of Edna Martin Christian Center, says the walk was generated by the students who wanted their voices to be heard. “We wanted to lean into the importance of allowing youth to establish that voice,” said Britt.

kids holding protest signs during Juneteenth Peace Walk.
Future leaders holding a banner during the 5th annual Juneteenth Peace Walk on June 14, 2024, beginning at the Edna Martin Christian Center, located near the intersection of 23rd Street and Ralston Avenue, on the east side of Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo/Noral Parham III)

“This is a day to celebrate our students and our youth in Martindale Brightwood,” said Andy Seibert, executive director of KIPP Indy Public Schools. “Their voice is amplified in this setting. Their brilliance and their advocacy is powerful.”

Beginning at the Legacy and Leadership campus located at 2259 Ralston, youth and supporters walked through the neighborhood with signs and messages of peace.

According to the Marion County Coroner’s Office Annual Report for 2023, the 46218 zip code, which encompasses Martindale Brightwood, saw 35 firearm deaths, the most in the county. This accounts for 47% of all firearm-related homicides in 2023.

In November 2023, Devin Gilbert, a student at KIPP Indy, was shot and found in the parking lot of the Edna Martin Christian Center Campus & KIPP Academy. He died from his injuries, as previously reported by the Recorder.

The school and community later held a prayer vigil honoring Gilbert’s memory and other recent incidents of youth involved with gun violence.

This year, the Juneteenth Peace Walk represents the collective efforts of the school and community to be proactive in violence reduction within the neighborhood. Indy Parks, the Brightwood Community Center and the Felege Hiywot Center all joined in supporting the annual walk.

Britt says EMCC is fortunate to be a part of a group of residents and stakeholders who are working toward positive developments in the neighborhood.

“This is a community celebration that is led by the students that we’re privileged to serve,” said Britt who adds that youth voice will be one of the pillars of the upcoming Martindale Brightwood Quality of Life Plan.

“These are the future leaders in our community, in our city, in our country. It’s just a beautiful opportunity to lift their voices and for the adults to sit back, listen and learn,” said Seibert.

Contact Editor-in-Chief Camike Jones at 317-762-7850 or via email at camikej@indyrecorder.com. Multi-media reporter Noral Parham contributed to this report.

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