Concert Across America remembers victims of gun violence

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A national coalition of gun violence prevention artists, activists and organizations are coming together for a second annual Concert Across America. Iowa voices will rise up as part of organized events Sunday, but readers can sing out now.

Last year, more than 5,200 artists performed at 350 events across 43 states to call for universal background checks and stronger laws in every state to reduce gun violence. As I write this column, more than 180 concerts across 40 states had been announced for 2017 — including the Iowa communities of Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Clinton. The events are planned for Sept. 24 because Congress designated the day for remembering murder victims.

For this year’s series of events, national organizers hope individuals and groups from coast-to-coast also will take part in a world record challenge from Sept. 21, which is International Peace Day, to Sept. 24.

Participants should record a video of themselves singing “Nothing More,” a song by Connecticut-based band Alternate Routes to commemorate the 2012 gun violence tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Post the video on social media using #ConcertAcrossAmerica as a primary hashtag. Lyrics, sheet music and karaoke versions of the song are available on the Concert Across America website.

“We added the world challenge to the concert to provide a way for individuals inside and outside of major cities to unify their efforts,” said John Rosenthal, a founder of Stop Handgun Violence and chairman of the concert series.

“Gun violence is an issue that affects all communities, and everyone should have an opportunity to work toward a solution. By sharing a message of love and kindness to end gun violence, we can remember and honor lost loved ones.”

The Cedar Rapids event is being hosted by Iowans for Gun Safety in partnership with Legion Arts from 1:45 to 4:30 p.m. at CSPS Hall, 1103 Third Street SE. Musical performances include Danique Seymour, Trina Harris, Alicia Strong, C.J. Smith and Justin Chastain. Participants also will hear from Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman, NAACP President Dedric Doolin, Linn County Public Health Director Pramod Dwivedi and Tanager Place CEO Okpara Rice. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Cedar Rapids - Concert Across America

“Iowans for Gun Safety works throughout the year to bring concentrated attention to the need for gun safety through legislative efforts and community gatherings. We do this because we believe safety is the primary key to achieve thriving communities, neighborhoods and families,” said Carletta Knox-Seymour, who serves as board president.

“The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence allows statewide organizations like ours to boost and amplify our message of safety. It’s an opportunity for like-minded people to come together in hope of making a positive difference. And, of course, it is a way for this community to remember those who have been injured or died as a result of gun violence, and reaffirm its pledge to stop more needless, gut-wrenching tragedies.”

Clinton organizers have not made their event details public, but the Dubuque event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in Blades Chapel on the University of Duqubue campus. Featured artists include Kristina Castaneda, Linda Niemann and Ralph Kluseman. Alan Garfield, University of Dubuque professor and board member of Children of Abraham, will discuss what the Abrahamic religions teach about violence. The event is sponsored by the Dubuque Coalition for Nonviolence, Children of Abraham, Dubuque Area Congregations United and the Dubuque International Day of Peace.

Dubuque - Concert Across America

full list of concerts is available through the Concert Across America website.

Groups in Iowa and around the country are seeking solutions to gun violence. These events are an opportunity to merge those diverse efforts, in harmony.

This column by Lynda Waddington originally published in The Gazette on Sept. 23, 2017.