“My son should still be here. When you live knowing your child died in a vicious way, there’s a difference — there’s a grave difference in my heart,” Curry said to the silent crowd.
The bereaved woman spoke of her murdered son, former Wellborn Elementary School teacher Kevin Thompson, during a keynote speech for the 13th annual Stop the Violence Family Awareness Day.
As the 100 event participants listened quietly, Curry led them through the dark thoughts that command her waking moments in the wake of her son’s April homicide.
“Was he already dead when they tossed him over the ravine?” she asked, referring to the remote area off U.S. 278 in Cherokee County where police found Thompson’s body. “Did his body jerk when they stabbed him? This is no joke, this happens every day.”
And it’s this kind of frequent violence that Curry and other speakers and event organizers at the community center Saturday hope to stop, using the power of words, music and prayer to highlight the senselessness of committing violent acts.
Jason Granholm, program manager for Coosa Valley Youth Services, spoke at length about drug use and violence as the top two reasons that kids end up in detention and adults in jail or prison.
He pleaded with both the children and their parents in attendance Saturday to stop and think before they allow negative emotions like sadness and anger to be transformed into violent action.
“I want you to make me unemployed,” Granholm said. “It’s not wrong to be angry; it’s not wrong to be sad … but the violent actions that manifest themselves are.”
Anniston Parks and Recreation Director Steven Folks took the microphone from Granholm, ratcheting up the volume and tempo of the event as he yelled.
“We’ve gotta stop this mess; we’ve gotta stop killing each other,” Folks said, storming back and forth across the front of the room. “You need to wake up today if you want to be saved. Quit doing that mess.”
For 13 years, the Carver Center has been working to promote peace in Anniston through the Stop the Violence Family Awareness Day.
Frazier Burroughs, director of the center, said the event is founded upon the premise that speaking up about a community problem is always better than the alternative of silence.
Anniston resident Jamesha Allen, 23, attended the Saturday awareness day and said she thought supporting the event was one of the most important things she could do for Constantine Homes, the community where she lives with her three children.
“It’s a violent place, Constantine, and places like Cooper Homes and Norwood Homes,” Allen said as she and her 3-year-old daughter Chicken polished off a few French fries. “People don’t understand the things they do affect other people there, especially the kids.”
Allen said she hoped events like the Stop the Violence day would eventually make her apartment complex a safer place to live and raise children.
“Now, you can’t even leave your front door open to air out the rooms, because you don’t know if people are going to run through your door, trying to get away from the police,” Allen said.
That’s exactly the kind of thing that Curry said she hopes to change by telling the story of her late son.
“We’re not going to be victims. We’re going to be victorious. We’re going to strive forward,” Curry said. “When we see our children are on the wrong track, let’s start there.”
As she ended her speech, Curry quoted something that Thompson, once a passionate third-grade teacher, said in a Christmas note to his family and friends.
“‘Children watch and emulate the things you do,’” Curry said, speaking the words of her deceased son.
Star staff writer Cameron Steele: 256-235-3562.