Evanston Police Detective Tosha Wilson cautions students at the Freedom School, “There is a responsibility that comes with carrying a gun.”             RoundTable photo

July 17 was the Children Defense Fund’s National Day of Social Action. That afternoon, students in the CDF Freedom School at Garrett Theological Seminary marched from their school base at Family Focus to the Civic Center, where they gave presentations aligned with the day’s theme: “Protect Children, Not Guns.”

Gina Robinson, a student a Garrett who is working at the Freedom School this summer, said the students are learning that they can make changes in themselves, their community and their country. Poetry, dance and spoken word figured in the students’ presentations.

In one class performance, each student held a sheet of paper with a letter that, taken with the others, spelled GUN VIOLENCE.  In order, the students read a sentence or two that began with their letter: G, gun violence is the biggest killer of children; U, the United States has 5% of the population but 46% of the guns … all the way to E, every person in America should feel empowered to make a difference.

The piece advocated for gun safety and laws to keep guns out of the hands of children.

A student who had lost a friend, Justus, to gun violence recited a poem she had written about it, saying there was no justice for Justus, “a black boy killed in America.”

Evanston Police Detective Tosha Wilson spoke to the students about guns and responsibility. She, too, had lost a friend to gun violence, she said, just before her freshman year in high school.

Det. Wilson attended Evanston schools and after graduating college, she said, “I came back to serve my community. You are my kids.” Carrying a gun carries responsibility, she said. “When I carry this gun, my responsibility level has to be very high, to make sure I protect you.

“You are bombarded by gun violence. … You have to stand up. If you see a gun lying around, find someone and say, ‘I saw a gun.’ Don’t touch it.”

High school will bring all kinds of pressures, many related to guns, Det. Wilson told the students. “Don’t give in to it. You are the key to stopping all of it.”  

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...