|Ashanti Syed, who lost her uncle to a shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018, takes to the runway in an African inspired gown designed by Akwasi Oduro Boakye Yiadom. — AFP Photo|
BOSTON — Dozens of models took to the runway in Boston over the weekend, and all of them shared a common thread: all had lost relatives to gun violence.
Several local designers showed their work at the Sunday event aimed at maintaining awareness of rampant mass shootings in the United States.
Some 48 people were shot dead in Boston in 2018, according to city police figures, slightly more than the previous year’s 45 and significantly more than the past five year’s average, 37.
The bulk of these homicides occurred in neighborhoods with heavy black populations.
Activist Asia Jackson spearheaded the event with the organisation "We are Better 2gether," with the proceeds going to groups supporting relatives of the victims.
"They loved the idea," Jackson said of these relatives. "Nobody has done it."
"We wanted them to represent their lost loved ones, come to the fashion show, be in the fashion show."
The festive event saw the models-for-a-day of all ages and sizes parade down the catwalk before a packed room in downtown Boston.
"I think it raised some awareness about finding another way to battle instead of with violence," said Ebony LePenn, whose husband Anthony Clay was shot dead in 2016.
The event offered another outlet to "express your emotions," she said, adding that it shows "we’re not forgotten."
"We can turn the pain into purpose." — AFP