By Corey Antonio Hardiman
August 21, 2014
Credit : AP/Jeff Roberson.

On Sunday, August 17, we arrived in Ferguson, MO—a group of Millennials, ages 15 to 24, hailing from Chicago and Atlanta. During our drive, I kept asking myself, “Am I valuable enough to live?”

While 13 percent of Americans are black, in 2010, 65 percent of gun murder victims between the ages of 15 to 24 are black, according to recent research. The numbers are terrifying. Our black Millennials are an endangered species. We have a bold gun problem in America and the amount of young black males dying by them is unacceptable.

Black Lives Matter

Protesting with the community against the injustice plaguing their community, I reflected on the teachings of the Civil Rights Era, when our forefathers were marching against the injustices facing their generation. And as I studied my surroundings, I wept. Everyone around me was a Millennial.  Our hands lifted, our voices yelling, “Don’t shoot, I am unarmed!”

I trembled because I know Michael Brown’s death is a wake-up call for America to understand what our black youth are facing when it comes to poverty, education, economics, and our place in the twenty-first century.

But many of my peers are looking for that leader to remind them of their worth and how to channel their anger into peaceful progression.

What’s Next?

After experiencing the Ferguson community, I can say with much courage that I believe in my generation. We as black Americans are more valuable than we can ever imagine. We are descendants of hard workers, brilliant thinkers, and spiritual warfare fighters. Witnessing so many young people join together in Ferguson from all walks of life, reminded me that better days are coming soon. From Chicago to Ferguson, young leaders are activating their passion to change the landscape of hate in America to love.

As we battle this gun problem of our generation, we must continue fighting for stricter gun laws and hold our law enforcement more accountable, especially when it comes to the lives of our black youth.

We matter.

If you think we are misguided, guide us! If you think we are hopeless, give us hope. I will not give up on my millennial generation.

I asked myself, “Am I valuable enough to live?”

Yes, I am valuable enough to live. We are valuable enough to live.

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Corey Antonio Hardiman is a member of Generation Progress’ Gun Violence Prevention Action Network and wrote this op-ed after his experience in Ferguson, MO, following the fatal shooting of Mike Brown.

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