On Feb. 26, the Baltimore Ceasefire 365 movement was honored during the inaugural Black History Month Community Leaders Awards ceremony, presented by the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism. And on that day I was proud to be an honorary member of Baltimore Ceasefire 365.
So, here is the backstory on how I got to be a part of the Ceasefire crew for a day. My friend, Ericka Bridgeford, the group’s co-founder, texted me on Facebook to announce Ceasefire would be among the group’s honored at the Black History Month event at the Banneker-Douglass Museum, in Annapolis. “Wow….Dope!” I replied. “When can I write about this?” Her reply was, “We have one more seat for a guest…and we’re inviting you to attend the awards ceremony. Can you come?”
It was my honor.
It has been a short, yet remarkable odyssey for the Baltimore Ceasefire movement, an organic answer to the violence, murder and mayhem that has seemingly possessed Baltimore for too many years. After Bridgeford ranted to her son last spring about the skyrocketing murder rate, she reached out to her inner circle, specifically Ogun Gordy and her best friend Letrice Gant (aka Ellen Gee), and the first Ceasefire weekend was birthed in Aug., 2017.
Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)
When AFRO First Edition was on WEAA’s airwaves, we dedicated an hour a week on the show for several weeks, leading up to the first Ceasefire in an effort to help build momentum and spread the word. In less than a year, the movement has garnered accolades from around the world and the nation. And this week, the vital work of Ceasefire 365 was officially honored by the state.
“Baltimore Ceasefire 365 is a grassroots peace movement created to raise awareness about the high murder rate in Baltimore City, comfort families of the deceased, and reduce violent deaths in the city. The group makes a simple ask: For Baltimore City to be free of murder for 72 consecutive hours. This simple ask has transformed into ceasefire weekends in Baltimore with much success,” is how Ceasefire’s bio read in the program accompanying the awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony this week recognized the incredible, life sustaining work that so many organizations do everyday across our state, typically with little fanfare and too often, few resources (hopefully that will change one day).
Organizations like Generosity Global, which helps the homeless population in Baltimore, and Inge Benevolent Ministries, which operates the only shelter in the country exclusively for Muslim women refugees and their children, among the other groups honored, are the bedrock of volunteerism and service in our state.
For the Ceasefire crew, getting out on the streets of the city and engaging many of the young men and women, who are most vulnerable to violence and murder is hard, grimy, challenging, joyous and ultimately, life affirming work.
It is a never-ending battle against all of the demons that the world outside of Baltimore (and far too many of us within the city) often attempt to define us as; murderous, violent, ignorant, lawless, ruthless, addicted, to name a few. True, we are all of those things. Yet, we are not bound by them, because we are so much more; resilient, loving, fiercely loyal, wise, brilliant, creative, powerful. The good overwhelms the bad, if it wasn’t true, the city wouldn’t be standing.
We are “more than conquerors” to quote Romans 8:31-39.
When Ceasefire was presented with the award, Gant eloquently spoke for the group. After thanking Van Brooks, with the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism, among others and name checking the Ceasefire crew, Gant ended her short speech with what has become the Baltimore Ceasefire mantra.
“Don’t let anybody tell you what Baltimore can’t do.”
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and host and executive producer of the AFRO First Edition video podcast, which airs Monday and Friday on the AFRO’s Facebook page.