"I feel support here."
Who We Are
Marilyn Washington Harris founded the Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence as a tribute to her son, Khadafy Washington, who was slain in the streets of West Oakland on August 4, 2000. Mrs. Harris, our staff and our Board of Directors share our goal for the Khadafy Foundation: to serve as a catalytic agent for the prevention and cessation of the murders of young people in our communities.
The genesis of the Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence, Inc. began when Khadafy was killed. Khadafy had just graduated from McClymonds High School, where he played on the football team. He was a good son who stayed out of trouble and who hoped to continue playing football in college.His mother's pain, despair, and frustration gave way to a vision. On December 13th, nearly four months after Khadafy's passing, Mrs. Harris had a vision of the billboards. She was only expecting one large billboard but was blessed with 23 billboards throughout Oakland and Richmond with the simple caption: Do You Know Who Killed Me? Along with the distribution of 500 t-shirts, this effort was the first major public effort by the Foundation to bring justice to this currently unsolved murder. But it was not to be the last. In the beginning the Foundation offered services and actively sought out other mothers who had lost their children to violence and untimely departures. Praying with these families and offering encouragement was the main activity. Prayer set the tone and was a good beginning to the crucial healing process, yet as more and more parents contacted the Foundation, the need and the demand from these families increased. So the Foundation began a support group, meeting out of my home before renting space.
With the support of Alma Empaz and many people like her, in 2001, the Foundation organized a victims’ march on June 23rd. Folks, friends and families marched from McClymonds High School to Lowell Park where a program was held honoring the loved one and the victims with a make shift crosses with chairs on the lawn. After this event, the Foundation began to attend street vigils, talking to young people mourning over their lost ones and attending funerals of people known and unknown, simply to offer encouraging words and inspiration to the families. One thing led to another and soon the Foundation was knocking on doors and making home visits, praying with families to let them know someone cared about them and they were not alone.
In March of 2002 the state of California issued the Foundation its nonprofit status of a public benefits corporation as a 501 (c) (3) charity. Immediately following, the Foundation was given the vision to do a citywide march and began working with pastors throughout Oakland. Soon other organizations joined, including Youth ALIVE! and Million Moms March. The newspapers stated that 3,000 people showed up at City Hall from East Oakland, North Oakland and West Oakland altogether. The work of the Foundation continued with the sending of gold angels to families who lost loved ones and the practice continues today. The first group of Angels numbered 50, yet sadly to report today is it in the hundreds. Never deterred, the Foundation continued organizing around victims’ rights to help produce with the Million Mom March an evening of Remembrance at City Hall in downtown Oakland.
In August of 2003, the Foundation honored all victims in Alameda County with makeshift crosses and decorations from families and friends. This was the year that the Foundation went to Sacramento as an attendee to join statewide victims’ rights march. With limited funding the foundation join a group leaving from Marin with the determination that an Oakland group would ride to Sacramento the following year. More determined than ever from the loss of three close friends of the Foundation, concentrated efforts were made to continue to serve on the streets, in homes and at community functions.
In 2004, the Foundation offered its first annual Mother’s luncheon at the Holiday Inn located in East Oakland off Hegenberger Way. 25 families were invited and 52 showed up, yet still no one was turned away. The event was a blessing. The Foundation’s works had touched the hearts and minds in the community and comments from various people proved how much love and care could impact the lives of people. Now people began to call for other services other than bereavement and prayer. Sometimes they called for what to do for their first vigil or what to do on the anniversary of their child’s birthday. One caller wanted to know what to tell the younger siblings regarding the lost and extreme pain left from the sudden departure of their older sibling.
In 2005 and 2006 the Foundation found itself with a new fight. Calls came from families who Victims of Crime would not and could not help because of changes in the legislation. Families with no insurance, and no way to pay for a memorial service depended on us. The Foundation began preparing obituaries and services, and getting flowers donated.
Since April 2007, as a partner with Catholic Charities of the East Bay in the Measure Y funded Oakland Crisis Response and Support Network (CRSN), the Foundation has become a first responder to scenes of homicides and in the homes of families and friends who have lost loved ones to violence. We have assisted families with grief counseling, memorial planning and preparation, and referrals to needed services including food, clothing, child care, and government assistance.
Today the Foundation still serves and still advocates for the rights of victims and their families. The Foundation is proud to collaborate with Bay Area and statewide organizations to create survivors' rights, and legislation for those left behind. The Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence will continue to work for compensation towards all victims and their state guaranteed rights, and to help all families in crisis after a loved one has been taken away too soon by violence.
(Click here to read more about the Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence in the news.)