The Vigil Against Violence

Vigil Against Violence Montage

For five years—from January, 1994 to December, 1998—a group of citizens gathered on the corner of 35th and State at twilight on the first Sunday of each month to read the names of those lost to violence on the South Side. Initiated by Rev. Susan Johnson of Hyde Park Union Church, Dr. Sokoni Karanja of Centers for New Horizons, and myself, Vigil Against Violence was at once an expression of resistance and an occasion for reflection. It was, as one regular participant put it, a way of “making oneself available to the problem.”

Sustained from month to month and year to year by the moral passion and clarity of purpose of Rev. Johnson, and nourished by the sense of fellowship that developed among the core group of participants, the vigils were simple occasions: a few words of introduction by a member of the community, the reading of the names, and sometimes a little music.

On this first Sunday of the month of October in a year when Chicago may again lead the nation’s cities in homicides as it did last year, The View remembers Vigil Against Violence in a photo essay by Patricia Evans composed of images drawn from the posters we created each month to announce the next vigil.

Launch the essay