A sixth-grader’s call for an end to violence ends with an eighth-grader’s death

“Sometimes I sit back and I have to escape from what I see and hear every day,” Sandra Parks wrote a couple of years ago in an award-winning sixth-grade essay. “I put my headphones on and let the music take me away, move to the beat, and try to think about life and what everything means.”

“We are in a state of chaos,” she wrote.

In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence. There is too much black-on-black crime. As an African-American, that makes me feel depressed. Many people have lost faith in America and its ability to be a living example of Dr. King’s dream!

The truth is faith and hope in what people can do, has been lost in the poor choices we make. We shall overcome has been lost in the lie of who we have become! So now, the real truth is, we need to rewrite our story so that faith and hope for a better tomorrow, is not only within us, but we believe it and we put into actions.

Our first truth is that we must start caring about each other. We need to be empathetic and try to walk in each other’s shoes. We shall overcome when we begin to understand and accept each other. We shall overcome when we eliminate the negative and nasty comments people make about each other. We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us. Then, we become our brother’s keeper.

Our second truth is that we need to have purpose. We are the future generation, therefore we must have an education to make a positive difference in the world. We are the future leaders, but if we don?t have an education, we will accomplish nothing. We will overcome, when we use our education to make the world a better place. We will become the next President, law enforcement officers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and law makers. We cannot continue to put the responsibility on other people. It is our responsibility as future leaders!

We must not allow the lies of violence, racism, and prejudice to be our truth. The truth begins with us. Instead of passing each other like ships in the night, we must fight until our truths stretch to the ends of the world.

That’s pretty amazing stuff for a sixth-grader with a big future.

It was so impressive, she was invited to read her essay on Wisconsin Public Radio.

The future died this week when Sandra, 13, did.

She was shot in her bedroom on Monday in Milwaukee, the victim of a stray bullet from a gunfight outside, becoming the fourth Milwaukee child shot and killed inside their home by a bullet fired from outside.