As she got dressed Wednesday morning, Pam Akintomide clasped a thin gold chain around her neck.
The necklace was a gift for Mother’s Day, the first one she’s had to endure since the death of her son. A charm depicts his name — Corey — in cursive, surrounded by tiny angel wings.
Corey Moseley was shot and killed in December, a week before the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School senior’s 18th birthday.
Akintomide stood among a crowd of school system leaders, local politicians and mourning families Wednesday to honor her son and the other Baltimore public school students who have been killed this academic year. As people paid their respects, the 41-year-old woman touched her fingers to the delicate chain.
It’s the second year the district has held this somber memorial event on the steps outside its North Avenue headquarters. During last year’s City Schools Peace and Remembrance Day, CEO Sonja Santelises read the names of nine slain students.
This time, she read 12 — all of them shot to death.
Her speech Wednesday was more than a tribute to the lives lost. It was a call to action for the assembled leaders, a demand they not allow more children to die of gun violence before they cross the graduation stage or dance with their friends at prom.
“I pray for peace in which our children can thrive,” Santelises said. “But I know that peace is only possible with justice. Justice will not come until we all take responsibility as a society for the indifference, the intolerance and the inequity that make these abominations not only possible but often times feeling inevitable.”
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said it was hard for him to comprehend that the city has had to bury more students this year than last year.
It’s numbing and painful, he said.
“But we’re here today to reject that numbing feeling,” Young said. “We’re here today to proclaim that the young people who lost their lives so tragically will be remembered.”
A bell rang between Santelises’ recitation of each name: Cameron Anderson, 17. Markise Jackson, 19. Taylor Hayes, 7. Marcus Brown, 18. Montrell Mouzon, 14. Des’Mon Anderson, 18. Michael Handy, 17. Damian Claridy, 18. Corey Moseley, 17. Markell Hendricks, 16. Lamont Green, 17. Mekhi Anderson, 17.
Santelises said the community must take the time to pause and consider what was lost. The students who died, she said, aren’t just numbers — they had families, teachers, classmates. They had dreams and promise.
Corey dressed for Dunbar’s pep rallies, and had just welcomed a baby son.
Montrell Mouzon adored the trombone, and took karate classes.
Some of the victims had attended alternative high schools at the time of their death; three alone had gone to Excel Academy.
It was hard for Akintomide to hear the little girl’s name read out loud — her daughter is around the same age.
“I worry for her,” she said. “I worry for these children. I worry for my city.”
She wants Baltimore officials to figure out some way to get the guns off the streets.
The piece of paper Santelises read from during the ceremony listed each of the slain students’ names, ages and schools. There was also column that listed the cause of death.
It read “gunshot” 12 times.