Rochester youth organize peace rally

Jun 23, 2019

Imani Barnes leads Saturday's peace rally near Rochester City Hall
Credit April Franklin / WXXI News

Success Beyond Negativity (SBN) is a group of young people in Rochester who have lost loved ones due to violence. Their goal is to encourage  people to choose options that lead to success instead.

On Saturday, the group organized a peace rally at Rochester City Hall and invited the community to help spread their message.

19 year old Emoni Barnes is the president of Success Beyond Negativity, she says she started the group after losing her first friend at age 12. 

“… His name was Ross, and I lost another friend when I was twelve his name was Louie. Ever since then I’ve just been losing friends but uh last month my friend Jalen passed away and also Raquan passed away. And just about a week ago, Deandre... so those are the deaths that really pushed me to bring this together (and) I want it stop. I don’t want it to happen no more” said Barnes.

Since starting  4 years ago,  Emoni and SBN's 15 members, comprised of friends she met in high school, have set out to create a peace movement holding small events throughout the city.

When the group pitched an idea to throw a larger event to Mayor Lovely Warren, they say she was happy to support the idea. With Warren's help, the group drew  hundreds of people ti participate in the event along with organizations that provided information on employment and educational opportunities. The goal is to connect people with the possibilities for success in Rochester.

At the event Warren told  the crowd about her own experience losing friends while growing up in Rochester.

Imani Barnes, President of Sucess Beyond Negativity
Credit April Franklin / WXXI News

She said “You don’t forget the moment. You don’t forget the day. You don’t forget where you were when you received that call."  

"Too many of our young people in our community and across this country are crying out. And I appreciate them for wanting to be a part of the solution" said Warren.

Freddie Hines of Rise Up Rochester, another anti-violence organization, says he finds it refreshing to see young people take a stand against violence.

“...we are here to support every effort that it takes to bring an end to violence in our community” said Hines.

At the start of the rally, Barnes led a march downtown to honor people that have died from street violence.

Together the SBN members led the crowd in a pledge to respect their neighborhoods. SBN is planning more events this summer, and welcomes volunteers to join in their movement.

For more information contact Emoni Barnes at Sucessbeyondnegativity1@gmail.com