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Before he was fatally shot earlier this month, Donzell Canada told The Sun there were two things he hoped people would remember about the death of his childhood friend, Freddie Gray: "Black Lives Matter and just cherish every day, because tomorrow is not promised."

His words were echoed by Lin-Manuel Miranda in his Tony acceptance poem, "senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day."

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Is this similarity a sign that Mr. Canada had the potential to bring words to life that would have resonated like Hamilton? We will never know, because less than a year after his quote, Mr. Canada was killed by a bullet on the streets of Baltimore ("Freddie Gray circle suffered another loss day before Goodson acquittal," June 27).

Each day the loss of lives continues, and we acknowledge the grief of the victims' family and friends. But what was lost by those of us who did not know the victims? Did Canada have the potential to win a Tony? Did Lor Scoota, gunned down Sunday at 23, have the potential to win the second Pulitzer for the art of rap ("Killing of Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota — 'one of the voices of the city' — stuns community," June 27)?

Did Gray have the potential to find a cure for cancer? We will never know how they could have changed our lives because their potential for greatness was crushed long before bullets took their lives.

They were robbed of that potential by lead poisoning as babies, poor schooling as children, persistent unemployment, and a violent, drug-fueled culture as adults. We must recognize that black lives matter, not only to black people, but to all of us who need artists, scientists and others who can make our lives more meaningful.

We must begin by taking action that will not only stop the violent deaths, but also stop the quashing of potential. Fixing the problems of urban America will only begin when we recognize that the loss of the potential of any child is a loss for all of us.

Janet Bush Handy, Bel Air

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