Shedding a light on youth violence

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Near the fountain at Selma City Hall sits a mysterious light that reads “murder” on one side and “no murder” on the other.

Though the light is located in a heavy traffic area, few people know the history behind the monument.

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The lights were actually constructed as a way to raise awareness of youth violence that had become a problem in Selma in the 1990s.

When Barbara Brown lost sons Brandon, 19, June 30, 1993 and Horace, Sept. 4, 1994, to violent crimes she began a movement to fight back by opening people’s eyes to the issue.

The purpose of the light is simple. When there was a murder, that particular side of the light was lit. On any other day, the “no murder” side was illuminated.

Brown formed a group called “Stop the Violence!” to make teenagers aware of the violence around them and form support groups for anyone who had experienced the loss of a loved one.

Through the years, Brown’s efforts helped her earn numerous awards. Several years after the death of her sons, she was appointed to the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission for a four-year term.

She has also served as a social worker and Program Director for the Department of Pensions and security and the Center for Mental Health/Mental Retardation.

She also oversaw the passage of a resolution designating April 4, 2001 as national Anti-Murder Awareness Day and the adoption of the purple ribbon as the national symbol against violence.

– Rick Couch, news editor

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