On October 6, a crowd of students, youth groups, city residents and public officials gathered outside of the Williamson Hall at 3 p.m. to watch the third annual non-violence parade in Youngstown.
The parade started on West Wood Street, headed down Hazel and ended in downtown Youngstown where a peace rally followed suit in the City Square. Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, the city of Youngstown, schools in Youngstown, the MLK Planning Committee and the YSU Department of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs sponsored the event.
Penny Wells, director of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, said that the parade was the start to non-violence week, and she was overwhelmed with the amount of people involved in the parade.
“We want students of YSU and residents of Youngstown to know that we are promoting non-violence in this community, and it starts today,” Wells said. “I was overwhelmed with the turnout and the weather, and over 60 groups participated today compared to around 40 for the last two years. It was fabulous.”
Members of the YWCA, Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown, YSU track team and residents participated in the march for peace.
Katrina Brumfield, assistant track and field coach, said that the event brought the community together.
“I thought it was a great experience for our student athletes to get out and support the cause, and that all those organizations showed up in support of non-violence week. It was nice to see the women and men’s track team, the swimming and diving team and cross country teams represented from YSU,” Brumfield said. “I hope we were able to make an impact today.”
The YSU women’s track team agreed with their coach and said the parade was a good way for students to show their support for peace. Ashley Smith, distance runner on the track team, said that she felt her team did a nice job of representing non-violence at the parade.
“I thought it was a nice turn out. There were a lot of different organizations involved, and a lot of people were watching as we went downtown. I think our team did a good job of representing how we feel about non-violence,” Smith said.
Ellie Pollock, runner on the track team, said that the parade was not only supportive of non-violence but was also a fun event in which to participate.
“It was an awesome event, and we all really
enjoyed marching downtown with the band and everyone from the different sports teams at YSU. It was fun to do, and a good way to support those who have been affected by the violence in Youngstown,” Pollock said.
The parade attracted attendants from afar. Patricia Christ, pastor of the Akron Firestone Park United Methodist Church, said it was her third year helping the kids from her church in the parade, and a great way for students everywhere to get involved with the community of Youngstown.
“The parade was an idea from the students of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, and I think the turnout was amazing. Everyone involved is promoting safety and non-violence in Youngstown, and the sun is really shining down on the love that surrounds this community,” she said.
Rosalind Lewis, resident of Youngstown, explained that her daughter participated in the event in the Youngstown volleyball division and she said she feels there is too much violence in the world.
“This parade is teaching the kids how they should act, because there are too many people getting killed today, and there is a lot of domestic violence in Youngstown,” Lewis said. “Students see all the violence around them, and they bring it to school. You hear about all the stabbings and shootings in schools and universities, and kids need to learn how to be safe.”