Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15, just one week after performing at President Obama’s second Inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, her friends asked for programs and events to honor her memory and raise awareness about gun violence. Since 2015, Wear Orange has taken place the first weekend in June (honoring Hadiya’s birthday of June 2).

Southeast Missouri will be commemorating this year with a city proclamation in Cape Girardeau and other community events. I wear orange for my cousin Reginald who died by gun suicide in 1984, and for my cousin Keith who was murdered in St Louis in December of 2015. I also wear orange for myself. I was threatened by my ex-husband after I left him to get to safety after being in a tumultuous relationship for nine years.

Wearing orange raises awareness about this deadly epidemic of gun violence that tears apart families, friends and marginalized communities on a daily basis. Join me in this fight.

Find out about and attend a local Wear Orange event by texting ORANGE to 644-33.

LESLIE ANNE WASHINGTON, Cape Girardeau

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