Black Art Theater Festival: Arts used to help heal families affected by gun violence

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Black Art Theater festival is underway, and Friday, Aug. 12, a powerful gathering of families affected by gun violence was held.

The theater company ran their production of "Milwaukee Voices of Gun Violence: Resolute, Resilient, Revolutionary."

The performance was put on inside Todd Wher Hall in Milwaukee.

The free performance touched on the effects gun violence can have in a community.

After the showcase, members of the audience, along with family members of those who were victims of gun violence, were invited to a healing ceremony to reflect on the performance.

Among those in the audience, Camille Mays.

Mays, a mother of three, says she lost her son to gun violence in Nov. 2019.

"He was murdered in November of 2019, but it seems like yesterday," said Mays.

The Milwaukee mother played Tibetan Singing bowls at the healing ceremony.

She says the bowls, are helping her on her journey to heal.

"It's something that I got into after the trauma that I experienced," said Mays.

The mother also reflected on her son's life, one she said was cut too soon.

"Funny, he was funny, and I think a lot about things he used to say and do and I laugh…yeah.. that's it, yup his humor."

On Friday, Mays was not alone. She was joined by other families remembering their loved ones.

The playwright, Sherrie Williams Parenel, says the arts can be a powerful tool to healing.

"Edu-tain, as it's called, we want to bring attention important issues and to do it in a manner that people will be able to hear, to receive, and as a result be moved to action."

While the journeys these families took to get here may differ, Mays says they're all hoping to hold on to the memories of their loved ones.

"Just want to leave a mark that is not forgotten like in the world, to make some kind of impact to know that it was for a purpose somewhere, that it touched somebody."

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