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ESSENCE Launches GUNS DOWN: A Provocative Three-Part Series Aimed At Curbing Gun Violence In Our Communities
4/8/2013 12:23:14 PM

NEW YORK, NY -- ESSENCE, the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women, announcesGUNS DOWN, its provocative three-part series aimed at making our communities safer. The first installment of the series, Loss & Hope, kicks off in the May issue (on newsstands now.) It features the families of two Black children cut down by guns: Ana Marquez-Greene, a 6 year-old killed in a hail of bullets during the Newtown, CT, tragedy; and Hadiya Zaymara Pendleton, a 15-year-old casualty of gang violence who was gunned down in her Chicago neighborhood a little more than a week after she had performed at the presidential inauguration.

Writer asha bandele shares a poignant tale of how the families of these young victims are searching for a deeper meaning behind their deaths. Nelba Marquez-Greene, mother of Ana, shares in her interview with ESSENCE: "I'm frustrated by the lack of meaningful action on gun violence. When people look back on this time, 100 years from now, will they be able to say we stood on the right side of history? Will they be able to say that we did all we needed to do to make our communities whole and safe? Everyone will hold all these lawmakers accountable if nothing is done…"

This series also kicks off ESSENCE's campaign to galvanize millions of African-American women across the nation—from readers to influencers and celebrities—to join in the fight against gun violence. The May issue features, "Dear Mr. President," a pre-written letter to President Barack Obama that readers can cut out and mail directly to the White House expressing support of the President's initiatives to curb gun violence—including restrictions on assault weapons, strengthening mental health care for young people, funding research on the causes and prevention of gun violence and more. ESSENCE also asks readers to spread awareness via social media by sending a Tweet with a picture of their signed letters with the hashtag #EsssenceGunsDown to show their support.   

"The gratuitous gun violence that has taken so many innocent lives, particularly in urban areas, must be addressed on a national level immediately. ESSENCE launched its GUNS DOWN series to garner closer attention to this critical issue—and to show Congress that our readers are united in their support of the President's initiatives to curb gun violence. We can no longer sit idly by as this goes on. The cost is just too great," said Michelle Ebanks, President ESSENCE Communications. "We are asking all of our readers to join us in our fight to create a brighter future for all of our children. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to go out to all of the families of victims of gun violence."

"ESSENCE readers and African-American women everywhere are just simply tired of reading stories where yet another child is being buried as a result of senseless gun violence," said Vanessa Bush, Acting Managing Editor, ESSENCE. "Our readers not only want to bring awareness to this horrifying trend; they want to see it end for good. ESSENCE hopes that our series and campaign will inspire changes in gun legislation and eventually lead to the end of this vicious cycle." 

For more on this month's issue and the GUNS DOWN series, visit

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