On June 2, 2015, people around the country wore orange for National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Today we would like to highlight a woman who has been on the frontlines of gun violence prevention. We are thrilled to be putting a spotlight on Lauren Footman, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Atlantic Regional Organizer for the Generation Progress Gun Violence Prevention Network.
Footman grew up in Yeadon, PA but it was during her time at Bryn Mawr that she began to become heavily involved in social justice advocacy.
“I started a college chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),”she said. “In my current role as President of the NAACP PA State Conference Youth and College Division, we have organized town halls around gun violence and police brutality. We have held meetings with elected and appointed officials of the Philadelphia School District, Philadelphia Police Department, and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, to address topics such as gun violence prevention.”
We asked Footman why the issue of gun violence prevention was of such importance to her and she explained the stake she has in the issue: “This is important to me because of the impact gun violence has on communities of color. I have observed the institutional structures that place African Americans at higher risk to be killed by gun violence, than their Caucasian counterparts, and think that something must be done not only to address gun violence, but the structures that disenfranchise certain racial groups.”
What Footman enjoys the most about advocating for gun violence awareness is the ability to connect with people. She thoroughly believes that meeting new people who are just as passionate about gun violence prevention can help strengthen the cause through sharing of ideas and tactics.
In the future Footman plans to obtain a masters in anthropology and go on to earn her Ph.D. After finishing her education she would love to work with communities in crisis. “I want to work with nonprofits, and create and implement programs that aim to strengthen marginalized communities through education, empowerment, and advocacy,” she said.
Footman believes that young people should make sure to truly immerse themselves in an issue if they are going to volunteer: “I would suggest young people educate themselves on the gun violence statistics and laws locally, and nationally to see what measures are currently being taken. I think being well versed on gun violence prevention, will only strengthen their ability to advocate.”
She also recommends looking for networks and individuals passionate about the cause. Finding ways to engage with elected and appointed officials and other community members, Footman says, is the first step to educating people on the importance of gun violence prevention.