Black in the Midwest

Black Mothers in Chicago Are the Village Against Gun Violence

Moms are mobilizing to protect their neighborhood’s children

Kelly Glass
Published in
5 min readNov 8, 2019
Tamar Manasseh, the founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK), speaks to Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) during his visit to Chicago’s South Side. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty

Last month, we published a special series on what it’s like to be Black in the Midwest and invited you to share your own experiences. The following is one of several submissions by Medium writers that we are excited to share with you.

“We are not activists,” said Tamar Manasseh, founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings, in a Facebook post.

In the days before Manasseh wrote these words, her friends, Andrea Stoudemire and Chantell Grant, were murdered on a Chicago corner.

Grant was a young mother, 26, who Manasseh says would bring her kids out every day to play. Grant and Stoudemire, 36, each had four children. “Two activists killed,” read the headlines from national news publications, framing them as women who set out to battle for a cause and their deaths as some sort of casualty of war. Even one of the city’s many nicknames, Chi-raq, coined by Chicago rapper King Louie, lends to the idea that the city is a war zone. In war, the only solutions are death and imprisonment. Black mothers, however, are bringing different solutions to Chicago through their presence.

Gun violence in the Windy City has become a political talking point for conservatives who feign interest. This year alone, from January through September, there have been 1,633 shootings and 382 murders in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. That’s 382 lives too many that have been taken, but these numbers represent the lowest number of shootings in the city since 2015.

“When Black children are not safe to play on their block, walk to the store, or go to school, Black women in Chicago step up. When the sons and daughters of Chicago are killed, Black mothers step in.”

Progress is being made, despite President Donald Trump’s obsession with painting Chicago as an embarrassment to the nation where crime has reached “epidemic proportions.” Chicago has seen an 11% decrease in murder while Washington D.C. is…



Kelly Glass
Writer for

Writer and editor whose interests focus on the intersections of parenting, health, and race. Find me at and on Twitter @kellygwriter.