Moms throw the book at gun violence

William Electric Black and Laurie Cumbo, fifth and sixth from left, joined L.E.S. Girls Club Moms Speak Out members at the “A Gun Is Not Fun” campaign launch.

William Electric Black and Laurie Cumbo, fifth and sixth from left, joined L.E.S. Girls Club Moms Speak Out members at the “A Gun Is Not Fun” campaign launch.

On Oct. 1 mothers and young women from the Lower Eastside Girls Club’s Moms Speak Out campaign — women who have been affected by gun violence — gathered outside P.S. 188, at E. Houston St. near Avenue D. They were joined by Councilmember Laurie Cumbo and peace advocates from Middle Collegiate Church to launch the distribution of 3,500 copies of William Electric Black’s illustrated early reader “A Gun Is Not Fun.”

Black a.k.a. Ian James is an Emmy Award-winning former writer of “Sesame Street.”

“I wrote this book because we are losing too many young people of color to gun violence,” he said. “It is a plague facing our nation. So I decided to use the ‘Sesame Street’ target audience and start educating them about this timely, and too-often deadly, issue.”

Among those at the event was Arlene Delgado, whose son Raphael Sadonte Ward, Jr., 16, was killed by a neighbor, also 16, in January 2013, at Rivington and Columbia Sts., a block away from Ward’s home in the Baruch Houses.

During October, ​Moms Speak Out members plan to distribute “A Gun Is Not Fun” in front of every public school and daycare center with pre-K through second-grade classes in the East Village / Lower East Side community.

Cumbo chairs the Council’s Women’s Issues Committee and is a member of the Youth Services and Public Housing Committee.

“I’m so happy that this publication has been produced,” she said. “This is an issue that starts at a very young age.” 

Reverend Jacqui Lewis is founder and executive director of The Middle Project, which prepares ethical leaders for a more just society.

“It is unacceptable to us that our children are growing up in a culture where violence has become the norm on the streets and in the media,” she said.

Said Lyn Pentecost, Girls Club executive director, “We believe that it is never too early to create a climate of peace! We’re starting now and we’re starting here — in our own Lower East Side community.”

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