Greetings everyone Good Morning! As you know my name is Kim Banks and I’m the mother of Samaad Frazier. He lost his life at 19 years old to gun violence on December 31, 2019 on Churchill Ave here in Somerset. He was visiting a friend, He was not a gang member or involved in gang activity, he was just at the wrong place at wrong the time. 

Life has become so invaluable these days and Gun violence has become so prevalent that according the Gun Violence Archive, 17,954 people have lost their lives to gun violence this year so far. 

Committing acts of violence against another human being has become the norm for some time now.  The amount of people who have lost their lives to Gun violence has risen on a yearly basis. In 2016, 15,139 people died. In 2021

How does hearing these numbers make you feel? What really hits home for me is that in 2019 of the 15,509 people who died from gun violence, Samaad was one of them. I never paid attention to those numbers until his death. I never thought his life would end so senselessly or even thought of him dying at 19 years old. 

Samaad has taught me a lot in his life and his death. One of the most important lessons was the dash. I never looked at the dash and realized how important it was. You know the dash, the one between your sunrise and sunset. Samaad’s life meant so much to a lot of people. He was no celebrity but in silence he touched many young and old. He was special. He made his dash, his legacy about inspiring, motivating and loving others. His presence, his hugs, His entire life was about LOVE, the love he showed everyone who came into contact with him and the LOVE we all share with each other in his death. 

Samaad also taught me about choices. Every day your given 3 things when you rise in the morning, a choice a chance and change. Make a choice, to take a chance, or your life will never change. Samaad battled depression after I moved to Somerset in 2014. His basketball career was flourishing before we moved here. The coaching staff at FHS at the time wasn’t a good fit for Samaad. That spear headed the depression along with the death of my father in 2016. I didn’t realize that My Dad was his Dad. I didn’t realize how bad this affected Samaad until after his death. He graduated from FHS in 2018 and continued his studies at Kean University, but he couldn’t shake the depression until 1 month before his death. He reached out to his mentor and trainer Coach Taylor. He was supposed to meet up with her but missed his appointment. He was killed 30 days later. He made a choice to take a chance to make a change…

It takes so much energy to be angry and to handle situations with violence. It’s such a costly decision. A decision that so many people are taking a gamble with because of the lack of love for themselves and others, because another man’s life means nothing to them, and because the consequences are far and few. 

So, what’s our next step? How do we step up as a community and support the people who need us the most so these situations can have different outcomes? This is what my nonprofit One Family One Fight is working towards, a solutions based community. A united community, with churches, businesses, and law enforcement. Who are working together to enforce our “stronger together” motto to provide resources and programs that service the community with developmental sports programs, mentorship that supports life skills development, which includes empowerment workshops, leadership workshops, college readiness, financial literacy, career development and mental health awareness programs. We are also giving away a scholarship starting in 2024 to a high school basketball player who did not get a full scholarship to college and who also battled depression. But found a way to cope and continue on. During Gun Violence Awareness Month and Wear Orange Weekend in June we will hold our annual Samaad Z Frazier Legacy 5K to help fund our Legacy Scholarship Awards program. It’s easier to become solutions based then to wait for things to be at it’s worse before we get involved. 

Join me in this fight! Find an organization in your community and support their causes. Let’s make a difference by reaching people before they make a bad decision, before violence with or without a weapon becomes a way out, or before suicide is the answer to depression.

Join me tomorrow Sunday June 4 at Colonial Park here in Somerset for our annual Legacy 5K! Race check in is 7:30am at the Knob Hill Pavilion at Parking Lot C. You can stay with us in the park from 12-7pm for our Legacy House Music Fest, come out and have a good time and two step with us as we party in the park in honor of Samaad’s Legacy. Thank you