From street-gang leader to peace-maker: Kejuan’s story.
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Change is possible. It takes courage. It takes work. It takes support. At Nonviolence Chicago, we are proud to be able to support young men and women, like Kejuan, take powerful, positive steps forward.
“I can honestly say I feel supported and loved every day now. I’ve never felt that before.”
These are the words of Kejuan—a young man whose life is being transformed because of his courage and commitment to practicing nonviolence and we're proud that we have gotten to play a part in his journey.
““I can honestly say I feel supported and loved every day now. I’ve never felt that before.” - Kejuan
Before working with Nonviolence Chicago, Kejuan knew nothing but violence. It was his way of life— the life of many Chicagoans living in communities suffering from gun violence. Kejuan was the leader of a street gang in Austin when we first met him. One day, his closest friend was tragically murdered by rival gang members. At his friend’s funeral, these gang members arrived and started firing— injuring Kejuan. Although Nonviolence Chicago outreach workers had been engaging with Kejuan for months prior, this was the wakeup call he needed to decide to change his life.
This decision would prove to show Kejuan’s true character as a young man determined to build a better life for himself and his family. He started getting involved with some of the programs of INVC, volunteering and even encouraging his peers to join him. After joining our READI program, Kejuan began to receive cognitive behavioral therapy and acquired a transitional job that pays him weekly. These opportunities became what Kejuan needed to realize he was strong enough to leave his violent past behind.
Of course, Kejuan is only one example of the lives being changed through the work being done by The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. At Nonviolence Chicago we are working directly with those affected by gun violence giving them the means to realize that they’re worthy and capable of making real and lasting change.
When violence is all you have known and witnessed throughout life, it’s hard to imagine a reality beyond this. But we believe that learning and practicing Dr. King’s principles and steps of nonviolence can play a crucial role in making a difference in communities torn by violence.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that "at the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love." This belief drives everything we do at Nonviolence Chicago and it has already made a real difference. But, of course, our work would not be possible without the help of Chicagoans who care and want to bring safety and peace to all of Chicago.