sherdavia-jenkins_web.jpgMIAMI — A Liberty City girl killed five years ago by a stray bullet as two men exchanged gunfire now has a lasting monument in a park named Peace intended to remind the world of the tragedy that took her life.

The monument stands four feet tall and is 16 inches wide on any side and was unveiled on July 1 at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park at the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (Northwest 62nd Street) and Northwest 12th Avenue in Miami’s Liberty City area.
But the monument unveiled on the fifth anniversary of Sherdavia’s death was a plain, stucco structure with an open chamber into which memorabilia from the community could be placed prior to the top being sealed.

Following the ceremony, at which the names of 109 children who died from gun violence during her lifetime were read aloud, members of the Kuumba Artists Collective transformed the monument with tiles on which butterflies were hand-colored and a special tile plaque.

The tiles were installed in an all-day effort on July 31 at which Sherdavia’s father, David, was present to provide assistance.

The tiles, beads, shimmering flattened glass balls and other creative bits, along with Sherdavia’s picture, facing the park, were worked onto the monument as jazz music played in the background, including Roberta Flack’s rendition of Angelitos Negros or “Little Black Angels.” According to Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, one of the organizers of the Kuumba Artists, the installation became something of a performing art, with passers-by stopping to watch, comment and ask questions.

The art materials were allowed to dry, finishing touches were added and then the monument was cleaned and sealed.

Besides Tinnie, artists who took part in the work of love included Altine, Charles E. Humes Jr., Lucius H. King, Donald McKnight, Robert McKnight and Darren Watson.

Tinnie said the monument is just a beginning of what is intended to be a larger tribute to Sherdvia and other children who had been killed by guns. He said budget problems have halted plans by the city of Miami to fully develop Peace Park with artistic fencing and amenities.

Artists and residents are also looking into the possibility of acquiring playground equipment, building child-sized tables for chess — the game at which Sherdavia excelled — and installing memorial brick pavers with the names of 109 children killed by guns during Sherdavia’s lifetime.

Photo: Sherdavia Jenkins