This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
On Monday morning, 9th grader Nyla Brooks stood in front of her classmates at Parkway Center City Middle College in Philadelphia and spoke about the broken promise of her city, the City of Brotherly Love.
“I see fear, and I see damage, and I see people that are hurt because they feel guns is the way to go,” Brooks said.
“I see blood. I see bloodshed. I see bodies. And that’s not what I want to see.”
She was not speaking figuratively. Like most of her classmates at this special admissions school on the northern rim of Center City, Brooks has actually seen the toll of gun violence.
When she was 4, her father was gunned down.
“I have a little bit of PTSD, so when I hear certain things, it triggers certain emotions, and it triggers a certain fear that I have,” she said.
A few steps to her left stood City Council President Darrell Clarke and City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, a graduate of Parkway Center City. The students had invited the two to their forum on gun violence and racial discrimination because they want to keep the conversation going. They don’t want the recently heightened national consciousness to drift away again from topics they consider vital.