Every day, 96 Americans are killed by gun violence, totaling more than 35,000 gun deaths per year. One in three people in the U.S. knows someone who has been shot and one in five U.S. teenagers (ages 14-17) report having witnessed a shooting.
June 1 marks National Gun Violence Awareness Day. For some it’s just another day, but for others it’s a symbol of a loved one’s life or a fight for survival.
For 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton’s family, this weekend is part of the never-ending fight for a safer tomorrow. “She was our heart, but for some, she was a headline,” says Cleo Pendleton, mother of Hadiya, a Chicago high school student killed by gunfire at the age of 15.
The Wear Orange movement began with Pendleton’s classmates choosing to wear orange in her honor; the color of protection and now remembrance. Orange has become a vivid symbol of the gun violence movement. In discussing the meaning and history of the movement, Wear Orange salutes Erica Ford, New York gun violence prevention advocate, for dubbing orange as the color of peace through work with her organization, Life Camp, Inc.
“Five years ago, a group of friends and I came together to create Project Orange Tree to honor our dear friend Hadiya and the countless others who have been affected by gun violence,” says Nza-Ari Khepra, founder of Project Orange Tree and co-creator of Wear Orange. “Since then, it has truly been an honor to watch this movement continually grow and touch every corner of our country with events and landmark lightings. This year, Wear Orange reminds us that we are an unstoppable force that is well on its way to creating an America that will be free of gun violence.”
Hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety, Wear Orange Weekend kicks off on June 1 and continues through June 3.
People, landmarks, and organizations show their support in different ways, but what unifies supporters is one color and one fight. Whether fighting the good fight with the community or observing in private remembrance for the fallen, there are many ways to rally around gun violence during Wear Orange Weekend and every day:
- #WearOrange on June 1, National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
- Take a photo or selfie and share it on social media with the hashtag #WearOrange on June 1.
- Turn your profile picture orange with the #WearOrange tool.
- Find a local event: Text ORANGE to 644-33 to ﬁnd a #WearOrange Weekend event near you or use the Wear Orange event finder.
- Put your passion into action and get involved. Join a group or volunteer: Moms Demand Action; Students Demand Action; Gun Sense Action Network; DoSomething.org
- Recognize and honor the victims and heroes: In a New York Times article, Natalie Proulx and Katherine Schulten discuss how to talk about recent incidents of gun violence and carry on the memory of those lost.
- Create memorabilia, art, and hold discussions.
- Visit recounted art exhibits.
- Read stories and profiles of the lives lost.
- Be heard: Sign a petition, vote, and contact members of Congress and your local and state officials.
- Donate: Give to Everytown or other supporting organizations to help end gun violence and save lives.
Make It Better provides the resources and connections to better grasp and take a stand against the recent tragedies of gun violence. By connecting you to the best supporting nonprofits and organizations, tangible impact and change is in reach. We will not stand for another life robbed by gun violence.
Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.