After helping to organize the funeral for entrepreneur and pioneer Sylvia Woods — the founder of Harlem’s famous Sylvia’s restaurant — I found myself in the terrible position of preparing for another burial, that of a four-year-old boy. Lloyd Morgan was playing outside on a summer evening with his mother near the Forest Houses in the Bronx when a stray bullet ended his life. He was FOUR. I’ll say it over and over, he was FOUR.
As I reflected on the remarkable life of Sylvia Woods and all that she accomplished in 86 years with us, I couldn’t help but wonder what young Lloyd may have grown to achieve had he been given the chance. Finding a cure for cancer, becoming a federal judge, opening up a chain of successful businesses, saving lives as a firefighter or doctor, educating our youth, or even one day becoming President of the United States. All of those dreams and more were possible; he had his entire life ahead of him, and someone snatched it all away in a matter of minutes.
We hear the headlines of shooting victims far too often these days, almost to the point where we become desensitized. It’s sometimes easy to forget that there are real people, real families grieving and reeling in unbearable pain behind the statistics. A mother must now bury her innocent boy. Every time I close my eyes, I see his face, those bright eyes that were full of joy and my heart is heavy from the thought that a 17-year-old now stands accused of his murder. While we are happy the suspected shooter is in custody, the fact that a kid killed an even younger kid is something that none of us should tolerate.
On Wednesday, we held the funeral services for Sylvia Woods at Grace Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. As generations of the Woods’ family, friends, elected officials and members of the community paid respect to a woman who left an unmistakable mark in New York and beyond, we took comfort in knowing that Woods led a rich life and died of natural causes. We can always look at her remarkable legacy; what can Lloyd’s mother, family and friends look at when they need comfort? Lloyd was robbed of his opportunities, and he died in the most unnatural, sick and senseless way.
I’m currently helping the Morgan family organize a funeral for precious Lloyd. It has been a tough week to say the least. I lost someone very close to me to gun violence in the past, and it never gets easier trying to console someone going through the same thing, especially a mother weeping for her child. Bottom line is, until we decide to patrol and protect our OWN COMMUNITIES, we will bury hundreds of young Lloyds.
Better hope it’s not your child.
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