Rep. Danny Davis Delivers Eulogy For Slain Grandson | WBEZ
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Rep. Danny Davis Delivers Eulogy For Slain Grandson

Illinois U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis delivered a eulogy for his grandson early Saturday afternoon in a crowded church in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.

Davis’ grandson, 15-year-old Javon Wilson, was shot and killed in a home invasion in Englewood last weekend. Police charged two juveniles, a 16-year-old male and 17-year-old female, with Wilson’s murder.

More than 400 people crowded into Carey Tercentenary African Methodist Episcopal Church on the 1400 block of S. Homan Ave., to pay their respects to Wilson and his family. Dozens of young people — friends and classmates of Wilson — wore his picture on their clothing, printed onto t-shirts and jackets.

A number of elected city and state officials were also in attendance, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, state’s attorney-elect Kim Foxx, and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin.

Other community members, neighbors and religious leaders filled the church’s pews from wall to wall, and its entire upper level, leaving standing room only.

A eulogy by Davis, who has performed eulogies for dozens of young Chicagoans killed by gun violence, was the last of the remarks.

Davis began his talk with acknowledgements to a variety of politicians who reached out to give their condolences to him and his family, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel President Barack Obama, President-elect Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

After recognizing various community members in attendance at the church for their support and friendship, Davis changed the subject to address the death of his grandson directly.

“Everything that I have said up to this point has been about Javon, and not only Javon but thousands and perhaps millions of other young people who cannot exist on a regular daily basis without the fear of not making it through the day,” Davis said.

Davis said he is shocked that with all of the advances our country has made, the United States has not been able to better control the illegal distribution of firearms in poor neighborhoods.

“Somehow or another we have not had the will to stop the flow of guns through inner-city communities, where they run through like water running through the Mississippi River,” he said. “You have to ask yourself, how does a fifteen-year-old get a gun? Where does it come from? Who will sell it to him? Who will give it to him?”

Davis said finding and building the will to address gun violence as a community hasn’t happened yet in part because children are growing up with the idea that they need to solve their problems through retaliation.

“We have not found the will to put a harness on bullying, children grow up with the idea that it’s tit-for-tat,” Davis said. “They believe that the best way to settle an argument is to do something drastic.”

One major theme in the eulogy was highlighting Davis’ experience of seeing fewer kids in school and fewer involved in church in their communities. He said his strategy for keeping his grandson’s mind and hands busy was to ask him for help flyering in the community.

“Almost any Sunday, you come by your church there may be a piece of paper from Danny Davis on your windshield,” Davis said. “Well Javon helped put some of those pieces of paper on the windshield.”

Davis said his grandson’s untimely death makes him not only grieve for Wilson’s parents and his friends, but for the two young people charged with his murder.

“I am so glad that the good lord gives me the spirit that I can grieve for the young man who pulled the trigger, that I can grieve for the young lady who gave him the gun,” Davis said. “Not only were there empty spaces at our table at Thanksgiving, but there were two spaces at our homes that are empty. And I am certain they did not want to miss the presence of their children. So parents, families, and friends let us be able to reach out.”

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