Women’s History Month Spotlight: Honoring Four Women’s Efforts to End Gun Violence

By Candacé King on March, 28 2024

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When it comes to the movement for Black and brown liberation, women have been making history every day for centuries. For far too long, women’s intellectual, political, and social contributions to the movement have been downplayed or flat out ignored. The theme of Women’s History Month this year is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” In the spirit of this theme, we renew our commitment to recognizing the invaluable women in the movement.  

We are spotlighting and honoring four dynamic women who are community legends in the movement against gun violence. Included in these mini profiles are links to not only learn even more about their work, but ways you can support them as well.  

In addition, we wanted to keep the train of recognition going, so we’ve asked each woman who received their flowers to give them to other women as well. During Women’s History Month and every day of the year, we must continue to uplift the women who move the movement forward.


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Shneaqua “Coco” Purvis, Founder of Both Sides of the Violence 

It took Shneaqua “Coco” Purvis 18 years to face the person that was responsible for firing the stray bullet that killed her sister, Maisha "Pumpkin" Hubbard, in 2002. Coco later became a mentor to that person, and out of that conversation, Purvis founded Both Sides of the Violence, an organization that seeks to find long lasting solutions to end the cycle of violence.     

“I always tell people I don’t know if my story would be the same if my sister was killed on purpose. It took me 18 years to have a conversation. I decided to talk to him because I needed to be a better leader for my community. We need to teach our youth to be better and do better. I just felt like it should start with me.” 

How to Support: Purvis is interested in growing her work but is still in need of a physical space and additional funding. Donations are accepted through   

As Purvis shared, “People can support our organization by donations. We do not have the millions of dollars that other organizations get. We are always outside but it’s challenging when there is not enough funding. Crime doesn’t stop. We can’t stop.”  

Shneaqua’s Flowers: Her Mother Margaret Hubbard, Oresa Napper Williams (Executive Director and Visionary of Not Another Child), Yvette Ramos (Advocate and Author of Coping with Grief and Loss of your Perfect Child) 

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Michelle Barnes-Anderson, Founder/Executive Director of Melquain Jatelle Anderson Foundation: Fighting Against Gun Violence Via Education 

Brooklyn Native Michelle Barnes-Anderson has been an advocate all her life. When she lost her son, Melquain Anderson, to gun violence, she created an organization in his honor to help end the cycle of violence. In addition to providing services that support victims and families who are affected by gun violence, The Melquain Jatelle Anderson Foundation runs a scholarship and fund, Fighting4U, which assists students with financial needs, academic support, and living expenses. As a result of MJAF’s organizing efforts, the New York State Legislature recently passed Mel’s Law, which will award posthumous degrees to CUNY and SUNY students killed by gun violence. 

“Once I lost my child, I wasn't going to stop fighting for anyone because we need to stop and break the cycle. It can't just be someone dying and now you're just angry and you want that person to die, too. We must try to put policy to prevent them to get that far, prevent them from murdering each other, prevent them from just sitting around and not thinking that their life is worthless.” 

How to Support: Currently, Anderson is seeking additional funding and transportation to further expand her services. A van would help Anderson reach more people within the community. To support Anderson’s work, please visit:  

Michelle’s Flowers: Her sisters Xenia Barnes and Khadedra Miller, Tara Lewis (mother of Quamel Anderson, who was killed by gun violence), Michelle Allen (Founder of The Nico World Foundation), Maxine E. Lewis, MSW (Founder of Carlton Locksley Bennett Foundation).

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Peggy Herrera, Mental Health Advocate  and Campaign Leader, Campaign to Close Rikers 

After losing her youngest son, Justin Baerga, to gun violence in July 2022, Peggy Herrera sought to turn her pain into purpose. As an advocate to end the cycle of violence, Herrera wears multiple hats within the movement. Currently, she is a campaign leader with the Campaign to Close Rikers and is involved in the No Price on Justice campaign and the Fair Access to Victim Compensation campaign.  

“There's never a day that you’re just not fighting. This is my life. I never go a day saying this is about me. Every day I walk out of this house, I know there's a purpose and the purpose is to make sure I can make a difference. If I’ve done it in one person's life today, I've done my job.” 

How to Support: Herrera is constantly on the move and wishes she had even more time to do the work she feels called to do. To join Herrera or donate to her cause, please be in touch at 

Peggy’s Flowers: Oresa Napper Williams (Executive Director and Visionary of Not Another Child), Jennifer Taylor,  Shneaqua “Coco” Purvis (CEO and Founder of Both Sides of the Violence), Sarita Daftary-Steel (Co-Director of Freedom Agenda), Katie Schaffer (Director of Advocacy and Organizing at Center for Community Alternatives) 

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Oresa Napper Williams, Founder of Not Another Child 

Mother, community activist, and change agent, Oresa Napper Williams is the founder of Not Another Child, an advocacy organization that seeks to combat gun violence and support families navigating grief. In 2006, she lost her son, Andrell Napper, from gun violence. Recently, Napper-Williams' leadership and advocacy work was recognized by the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, and she was named one of the faces of survivors of gun violence. 

How to Support: Napper Williams is currently looking to expand her services and needs mobile healing units, or what she calls “Heal on Wheels.” These vehicles will be used to transport survivors to support other families as soon as their loved one transitions, as well as provide discussions on healing within communities as soon as a shooting occurs and other support services. You can reach out to support at here.  

Oresa’s Flowers: “I want to give flowers to every survivor that has allowed me to be a part of their life. I see you, your struggle to live, your struggle to want to do more or just do better. I see your strength, your weakness, your vulnerability, and your transparency.” 

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