LIBERTY CITY — Friday, July 1, at 2:42 p.m., will mark the exact time five years ago when Sherdavia Jenkins, a promising and popular 9-year-old was killed by a stray bullet during an argument between two adults as she played in front of her home in Miami-Dade County’s Liberty Square housing development.
Sherdavia was the 16th child to be killed locally by gun violence in 2006.
The anniversary of her death will be observed in a solemn ceremony slated for 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park on the corner of Northwest 12th Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard (Northwest 62nd Street) in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.
Organizers said the observance will be preceded by a half-hour of music, which will be followed by a traditional Native American ceremony to bless and give thanks to the land on which the park sits. The blessing will be offered by Carib Tribal Indian Queen Catherine Hummigbird Ramirez, who is known for her efforts to save the Miami Circle in Downtown Miami, for holding weekly Tuesday evening Native prayer vigils there and for taking part in an annual tribute to the ancestors at Virginia Key Beach.
At 2:42 p.m., a solemn prayer of remembrance will be led by Miami City Commissioner the Rev. Richard P. Dunn II. Then the names of other children killed by gun violence will be read by elected officials.
A small permanent monument – the first step in making the park design a reality — will be unveiled by the Kuumba Artists Collective which will also renew a sign which the group placed at the park in 2010 on Sherdavia’s March 22 birth date.
Organizers are inviting individuals and families who have lost children to violence and those who simply wish to be present for the remembrance to bring memorabilia, pictures and written prayers that will be sealed inside the monument as part of the observance.
“In this way, many people will have a hand in the commemoration of Sherdavia and the many other children who have been taken away from us too soon, at a park on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard which will become a welcomed safe haven for families and children to play,” said Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, one of the leaders of the Kuumba Artists Collective.
“This is all a positive and proactive effort to help build a healthier and more caring community, beginning with the next generation of children, rather than a reaction against the gun violence, which has well-known, longstanding causes,” Tinnie said.
Although the park was officially named in memory of Sherdavia in January, 2009, little has been done to improve the site, due mainly to budget problems facing the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County, Tinnie said.
As a result much of the initial work on the park is disappearing, including some of the newly planted trees, and a bus shelter continues to be defaced with posters.
“For this reason, community groups, like the Artists Collective, the Liberty City Garden Club, local churches and area residents are determined not to let the fifth anniversary of Sherdavia’s death go by without some real improvements to the park,” Tinnie said.
For further information on the event, call 305-904-7620.