Throughout November, we are going to shine the light on survivors of homicide victims and their tireless work toward more peaceful communities. We'll send weekly emails that feature the experiences and expertise of survivors of who are leading by example. We hope you'll be inspired to participate in The 16th Annual Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month from November 20 - December 20.
SHVAM Survivor Spotlight: Ms. Patti Lee
Patti Lee is an artist and her photography was featured in a recent exhibition in Boston called "Sharing Our Stories." Patti is also a broadcaster and producer at Boston Neighborhood Network. Her son Ahmir Lee was murdered in 2013.
Can you share a memory of your loved one who was murdered?
Ahmir loved to eat. I can remember our last Thanksgiving where I cooked the usual Colombo-Afro Thanksgiving meal: turkey, gravy, stuffing and all. He had invited a few of his friends and they all were about to crash, play video games, etc. As we know, the chemicals from the turkey kick in and the -itis sets in. Well not in my son Ahmir's case. He commanded that we all get up, shake it off, and get ready to go to the next best cook's home in Villa Victoria. I've never met a man with such and appetite! He was just the most lovable 260 lb young man I've known.
How does your experience as a survivor of a homicide victim shape your work and your life?
Well, I don't feel like a victim. This has been the most painful experience in my life, and as I've gone through advocating for my son, even more painful to see how many injustices in our community exist and this whole pipeline of our children from Boston Public Schools to jail. It has pushed me into a place of seeking for justice for my now gone son regardless of the odds stacked against me being a single black mom, someone who has no title or profession or recognition. It has pushed me into a greater place of seeking God, the God of justice, seeking him through this situation and the situations Ahmir's peers confront. It has catapulted me into the platform of broadcasting and vocalizing where many maybe don't have the platform to speak out.
What are you doing to inform, influence, and impact policy and how can the community support your peacemaking efforts?
As I've been seeking God, I was pushed to pray with Ahmir's peers and community to seek God in this and shed light in such a dark place. How is it that my son was the 117 shooting since the Boston Marathon Bombing? How is it that I was being told "shut up sit down" we are taking care of this from public servants? How is it that the mayor went on that night and defamed my sons character, even before I knew he was dead? How was it that so many were being shot and killed? How was it that maybe just a handful are being able to move through our streets and terrorize our children?
Shortly after Ahmir was murdered, the Boston Herald did an investigation and found that out of 334 shootings none were resolved. My son was the first case out of 13 that a grand jury brought forth charges indicting a killer. I believe that people that don't know what peace is and only know violence should be in the margins and deal with the consequences. If we don't do anything this is condoning bad behavior. I also think that the TV and radio have given me a platform to speak about issues and highlight people and programs that are influential in community safety.
We invite you to check out Patti's work!
Check out her artwork here.