On Sunday, February 4, 1999, a hard-working young man with aspirations for a college degree, who spoke multiple languages and had several degrees, died in a hail of bullets on a street in The Bronx.
He was arriving home from work. He was unarmed. He was not a criminal. He aspired to attain other degrees. It was police-involved.
Vigils on the anniversary of the murder of Amadou Diallo have occurred each year ever since his death. And so, it was for this 25th-year anniversary weekend.
Two important events were held near the site where his life was taken to remind the world of the American tragedy and what was stolen from it.
On Friday, February 3, The Bronx Community College’s Amadou Diallo Youth Arts and Sci-Tech Day paid homage to its namesake with middle school, high school, and college students participating in art, science, and technology activities.
On February 4, the anniversary of the shooting , a vigil was held on Wheeler Avenue with a silent walk from the Amadou Diallo Mural on Amadou Diallo Place (1177 Wheeler Avenue) to 1157 Wheeler Avenue, the site of the the1999 tragedy.
On that night, elected leaders, residents, neighbors, New Yorkers from all over the city, along with such organizations as the JusticeCommittee.Org, the Malcolm X. Grassroots Movement, and the CUNY School of Law, walked with Mrs. Diallo along Amadou Diallo Place to the site of her son’s death, and where the shells of 41 bullets were once scattered.
She walked arm in arm with other mothers of a movement to stop violence, and to welcome peace, and unity in our communities.
Sean Bell’s mother, Valerie; Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, and others who lost their sons “at the hands of the police” joined elected officials and community leaders to show solidarity with Mrs. Diallo and such organizations to keep the national conversation going.
“It’s a quarter of a century, so I had to return here without crying,” said Mrs. Diallo to the media. Of her first-born child, she said, “I want to pick up Amadou, dust him off, and give him back his story.”
And she’s doing just that through the Foundation she developed in his memory and in celebration of the values he shared with his strong family.
She also expressed her family’s gratitude to New Yorkers as a whole: “You guys helped us, prayed with us, comforted us when we needed that. We prayed together. We marched together. We protested together. We demanded changes together. And the journey continues.”
After Diallo sued the city and reached a $3 million settlement, she formed The Amadou Diallo Foundation.
“It’s for his dream to be implemented so that many young people will know who he was by achieving his dream through the Amadou Diallo scholarship,” Kadiatou Diallo said.
“I’m at peace. Amadou is at peace. It’s the history that we are documenting today,” she said.
According to the website, “The Amadou Diallo Foundation works to achieve its mission of promoting racial equality by implementing education programs designed to identify, nurture, and support promising students—especially those of African descent—who are transitioning from high school to college. Through our scholarships, training programs, and global mentorship networks, we empower our students so that they can complete their degrees, build careers, and become conscientious leaders in their communities. Our vision is to end racial inequities, promote education, and connect people, particularly of African descent.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit the foundation website at www.amadoudiallofoundation.org
(by Graham Weatherspoon and
Bernice Elizabeth Green)