Anya Sczerzenie, Contributing Writer
Motivational speaker Dwayne Hill is organizing a men’s march in Richmond to combat gun violence within the black community.
The march of the Stop the Violence Movement, also called Manpower: Walk of Champions, will be held July 18 at 3 p.m.
“Please bring your sons, your nephews, and every male you know to be a part of history right here in Richmond VA,” Hill wrote in his Jan. 3 Facebook post. “We have all heard that old saying that black men can’t come together, and that we can’t fix what’s happening in our communities. Well, family, I want to break that myth in half.”
Hill is originally from Richmond and now lives in Sacramento, California. He said he was inspired to create his first anti-violence march, “Faith Walk,” in Richmond in 2015 after repeated murders in his community.
“I had a friend who had two friends murdered within 24 hours of each other,” Hill said.
The Manpower: Walk of Champions march was conceived after the murder of nine-year-old Markiya Dickson, who was shot and killed in a Richmond park during a Memorial Day cookout in 2019.
“I prayed and asked God for a sign,” said Hill, who was once a minister-in-training and describes himself as a Christian. “We had a little girl, Markiya Dickson, murdered in a park, and that brought me back to what I was supposed to do. When Markiya Dickson passed away, I challenged the men of Richmond to step up.”
Even though the march is still six months away, many Virginia residents are already making plans to attend or volunteer at the event. The event is being planned through Facebook.
Hill said he doesn’t know what the turnout will be, but he hopes that people who participate “are the ones that really care.”
“The murders, the missing girls, the drugs … people are just not getting along at all,” Hill said. “Homicide is not just a black issue. It’s an all-Richmond issue.”
Hill said he feels black men need to participate in marches since black women have been the ones to lead activism efforts in the past.
“I think in my community, the women have stood up more,” Hill said.
The march’s planned route starts on Hull Street and finishes on Belt Boulevard in the Woodland Heights area of Richmond.
Hill wrote on Facebook that he was inspired by similar marches in cities like Baltimore. The photo he used for his Facebook post, illustrating what the march in Richmond might look like, comes from a black men’s anti-violence march in Baltimore.