Activist Remembers King’s Lessons

Her aim is to save kids from gun violence

Laurie Palmer, a Black community activist who started a local organization to address the root causes of gang violence, remembers how much the message of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. affected her life and how she tries to carry his work for racial progress forward.

The motivational speaker and founder of the Go Get Your Child Community Violence Prevention Coalition, her vision is “to have a community that collaborates together to create safer options to violence.”


Gang violence is rampant in Portland, she said, and Palmer’s own son, Jazman Moore Sr., was shot six times in January of 2015 with a Glock .45 high-powered pistol. He survived, but died of a heart attack five years later. Fighting against gang violence is something she has never stepped down from, even actively confronting young gang members, including her son.

“I used to go get my child through all his gangbanging and all this foolishness… I was in the street with his little homies at night when they were running around, chasing them down, putting blessing oil on all their heads and telling them the blood of Jesus is against you,” she said. “They knew me and some of them are cutting my grandson’s hair now. I feel like I saved some lives.”

But she hasn’t slowed down and is constantly coming up with new strategies to help victims of violence and enable mothers to have the ability to get their child out of gangs.

With the help of grants and other activists, Palmer’s latest efforts include reaching out to at least seven women who have lost a child to gang violence, to help them become stable, and have them in turn help other mothers. To learn more, go to gogetyourchild.org.


“If we start healing the women, we can heal this community,” she said.


Palmer had a tough childhood, and remembers being inspired by King.


photo

Laurie Palmer

 


“Every house that I went in, from my mom’s to my grandmother’s to my great-grandmother’s house, they all had that velvet picture of Martin Luther King. He was like a king to us,” she said. “So I looked at him, not like a god, but a god of the movement and the people and the one that was a voice on our behalf.”

A couple of months ago, Palmer was in Washington, D.C. and was determined to see the Martin Luther King Memorial. She said being able to give tribute to the civil rights leader by placing t-shirts from the many nonprofits she works with at the base on his statue for a photo, making a connection to her own activism, was inspiring.


 But King’s dream of equality for all has yet to be fulfilled, she said.


“He said that he had a vision that one day we will all play together and be free, and we still ain’t, and we’re going into 2022,” she said.


Through the difficulty of her own childhood, Palmer said she felt King’s message, and she understands how some kids can go astray.

“I grew up in an abusive home, got into drugs, and in 1991 went to prison,” she said. “In 1992 I got saved and in 1993 I got out in October and had custody of my kids by the following January,” she said. “Then I got a proposal from Keith Palmer. We got married and he helped me raise my kids.”


Palmer is also involved in a campaign where signs that read Do Not Murder are placed at various deadly shooting locations around the city. She says more work is needed to address violence, and authorities should pay more attention and listen to those who have been impacted directly.


Her work in the community also involves working with many other nonprofits, including Love is Stronger and Black Men in Training, and she also seeks advice from Vincent Jones-Dixon, Gresham’s first Black city councilman, who lost a brother to gun violence.


Saving children from gun violence is her main goal, Palmer said.


“I’m gonna fight for these kids, because if I can save one child – don’t care what color he is – from killing somebody, then that’s my mission,” she said.


It hasn’t been easy, she said, and she’s received pushback for her activism, even from her own family.


“I have this saying that I’m going to be like Martin Luther King in my community. It only takes one, and when God told me he wanted me to start, I had to,” she said.

--Beverly Corbell