With women’s, LGBTQ+, and other civil rights issues dangling in political limbo, Tuesday’s election is crucial but some folks are keeping their eyes on a bigger prize, the presidential election of 2024. Grassroots organizations like the Always Love You initiative are hoping to keep people interested and active through social engagement, music, and voter registration opportunities while also highlighting issues important to communities of color.
They are hosting a free concert Nov. 12 at the Calvary Center in West Philadelphia. For Saturday’s concert, founder Theresa Marsh wants to put a spotlight on the importance of gun violence especially when it comes to assault rifles.
“This concert is about honoring the kids that are with us and honoring the children that are not with us. This is a civil rights movement as I see it,” Marsh explains.
The concert, which will take place from 4-6 p.m., will honor the victims of the Robb Elementary School Massacre in Uvalde, Texas. The shooting that took place May 24 and claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers was a moment of realization for Theresa.
“One person, as they say, can make a difference. And it’s an issue where there should be no discussion, we just want to protect children.” Theresa states.
Through the arts and engagement, Theresa is hoping to inspire others to join her. She says the best way to do so, is to vote.
“We know that many voters, unfortunately many of them are African Americans, are eligible to vote and don’t vote for whatever reasons. They’re unhappy with how things are. They are disengaged. They don’t believe that voting does anything. So I’m saying to those voters, fine. Don’t vote for you, use your vote to vote for a child. I’m interested in voters voting for people running for office who think enough of children to say that their lives are more important than the right to own an assault weapon.” Theresa shares.
Residents interested in attending the concert can expect an emotionally evocative journey including images of murals depicting the 21 Uvalde shooting victims. There will also be a live discussion on gun violence and child safety led by Shariq Syed Raza, MD, assistant professor of surgery in Trauma Surgery and Surgical Critical Care at Penn Med. Finally, folks are invited to listen to the endearing music played by the Bismuth String Quartet as they premiere an anti-assault rifle anthem.
By utilizing the arts to address a harsh and distressing topic, Marsh hopes that her approach will not only inspire others to get involved, via registering to vote, but she hopes that every person present will develop their own sense of care for the safety of all children. Because, as she’ll tell you, this isn’t just a parent’s dilemma — this is a human rights issue.
“An assault bullet doesn’t stop and say, ‘Oh, by the way, are your parents Republican or Democrat?’ It doesn’t care, it just blows the body apart.” Theresa says. “We can absolutely eliminate assault weapons deaths, that’s doable. And the way to do it, is to vote these people out of office and to make people care.”