Rev. Al Sharpton: Zurana Horton Died Standing Up to Protect Her Children
Family, friends, and community joined together to celebrate the life of Zurana Horton, hero mom who risked her own life to save children from gun shots on Pitkin Avenue.
Cornerstone Church was packed with mourners, and Zurana’s mother Denise Peace Horton, father Keith Horton, and sister Asia Horton Harvin sat proudly while embracing Zurana’s children.
Leaders of several anti-violence groups attended Zurana Horton’s home going, including Tony Herbert, Rev. Taharka Robinson, Erica Ford, Mike Tucker, and Geoffrey Davis.
Tamika Malory, executive director of the National Action Network introduced Rev. Al Sharpton. Malory said, “Zurana Horton was a shero. Her life was about a struggle to protect our communities, our elders, and our youth. This young woman who loved her family is a symbol to be as bold and courageous as she was.”
Rev. Al Sharpton gave a strongly worded eulogy in which he asked Zurana to give greetings to Harriet Tubman, Coretta Scott King, and other Black women who gave their lives for their people while they were here.
Below are excerpts from Rev. Sharpton’s eulogy.
“Tonight we are here for an occasion that we allow too often. I thought it was one of the worst examples of violence I had seen. There were many that were already out there that do this work every day. They didn’t need a phone call. Erica Ford. A.T. Mitchell. Tony Herbert. Mike Tucker. All of these people are out there every day when there are no cameras. The reason you don’t know them is because they are not supported. They are not funded. They are ignored. It is not attractive to the media to save our lives. It doesn’t get ratings to tell gang members that they can be more than a hoodlum and thug. They stand in danger’s way every day. I come with them tonight because we know what happened with Zurana. But if it were not for the Mike Tucker’s and the Tony Herbert’s and the Erica Ford’s and the A.T. Mitchell’s, we don’t know how many more we would have had.
“What amazes me is we live in a city that debates about taxing millionaires but has no problem cutting youth funds and anti-violence programs. No problem cutting afterschool programs. No problem cutting things that would give these children a basis to expand their minds. But if you want to touch millionaires, there are all kinds of debates.
When children are given no support system and violence is romanticized, we live in a time when the music, film, and leisure industry tell our children that manhood is based on not who you can help with who you can hurt. And you want to be the baddest gangster, rather than a scientist, or a banker or an artist. Where will they learn that from if you cut the funds from those that can teach it to them?
“I grew up in Brownsville. When I grew up in Brownsville they had a thing called Manpower training. They had Model Cities. They had Neighborhood Youth Corps. We didn’t make a whole lot of money but we learned how to do something. More important, we learned we were expected to be something. We had gangs then – Tomahawks, Jolly Stompers. We didn’t have a culture of killing each other. We had community leaders that cared about us.
“Adam Clayton Powell put those programs through Congress. Shirley Chisholm fought to maintain those programs. How can in the 70s we get more funds for young people than we can in the 21st century? We have more elected officials and get less done. We are caught up on our titles, rather than our functions. Who cares what title you have if you can’t do anything? Who cares what committee you chair while children are shooting at each other? You can’t unlock the resources and you don’t have the courage to stand up downtown and represent those that sent you down there. If this doesn’t make you speak up, you need to come home, sit down, and shut up.
“We are condemning the violence. We’ve been marching against the violence. Then you have eight folk indicted, with police bringing guns in. Then you have police indicted for fixing tickets, and 300 cops march demanding they have the right to do it, like they are victims. We are living in the middle of being under siege from the cops and robbers.
“Somebody better bring some sanity to this.
“This woman did what many of you who claim to be leaders in this city won’t do. She put herself in the way. She could have ducked. She could have hid. She could have said, ‘It’s dangerous.’ But she saw her children and others in danger. She did what not enough of you elected, and you preachers, and you leaders do. She put herself in the way.
“This woman is a hero.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen somebody choose danger. It ought to be a challenge to all of us who don’t stand up because we are afraid.
“In her name, it is time for us to stop this. Young men and women choose which building if their turf and they don’t have the deed to either one. Rather than marking the turf, we ought to own the turf. We ought to be teaching them how to own real estate. You don’t have to surf as long as we have to pay the rent.
“People are making profits off of our self-destruction. I don’t care how bad it is, there is no excuse for us to be killing each other. There is no excuse for us to be shooting each other. There is no excuse for us to be selling to each other.
“We must challenge the young folk. That’s why I respect Tony Herbert and the others who go in the streets. We need to occupy some of these housing developments. We need to have a no violence zone. We need to shut this down. We need to be a father to the young men and help raise them. If their parents won’t raise them we need to help raise them.
“[It is] time for us to get in the way. It may be dangerous, but we have to get in the way.
“She didn’t have funding she didn’t have an organization she didn’t have a title. No one did a profile of her in a magazine. She wasn’t on the evening news. She just had the courage. Somewhere in that flashing moment, she said to herself, ‘Maybe if I can save my child, she can never life I may not live. Maybe if I can help get in the way, I can spare someone.’ She did something we should never let this borough or this city forget. If we walk out of here tonight still misbehaving, and not ready to go to the streets with those who already there, then she has made the sacrifice for nothing.
“We need these programs to be supported, but we need to come out to the street and take charge in our communities. We need to quit looking for everybody else to do for us what we need to be doing for ourselves. We need to start turning this time around. Superman ain’t coming. But you and I can turn this around, kid by kid, building by building, block by block.
“We ought to be ashamed that she demonstrated more courage that many of us.
“I say to her family, through your sorrow you should be proud. And you should know, you made a hero. As her children grow, tell them their mother was a hero.”