The last image that I saw of my dad, was when he was laying in his casket. He looked so peaceful and it was at that moment that I realized I would never hear from him again. Prior to that I had only seen him twice before, when he was being pushed into an ambulance with a bloody patch covering his forehead and when I had given him my last hug on Father’s Day 1999.
It’s a story that I’ve told a few times and each time I tell it, it feels as if the terrible events happened just yesterday. It’s a common scene and an unfortunate story that is told too often while trying to live and thrive in the city of Philadelphia.
The amount of gun violence that Philadelphians experience is nothing new, but the question that keeps coming up at each crime scene and each vigil is what will be done to address the ongoing problem?
The situation is dire and it does seem bleak at times. The Philadelphia Daily News just a few weeks ago reported that the City has recorded 78 homicides since Jan. 1 of this year, up 17 percent from the same point last year and the highest since 2012.
I can’t help but be hopeful as I look around my North Philadelphia neighborhood that things will get better. I understand the struggle and as a young Black man I live it, but as I walk the streets that are stained with past memories of lost ones I still find myself hopeful for better days.
I see those “better days” each time I see the crossing guard who has worked in my neighborhood for years greet school children every morning with a smile. I see it when a person in their 60s visits the local community center to obtain a GED or learn how to become a user of technology.
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Dominique “Peak” Johnson is a North Philadelphia journalists and blogger. He is one of the founding editors and writers of the North Philly Metropolis, blogger for The Huffington Post, and staff writer for Al DÍA News. Click here to learn more about Peak.