Why the Wear Orange campaign is important

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National Gun Violence Awareness Day falls on June 3, and with it comes the Wear Orange campaign, which aims to bring recognition to the movement sparked by the 2013 death of a teenager who was mistakenly shot by members of gangs in a Chicago park.

Since 2015, National Gun Violence Awareness Day falls annually on the first Friday in June to commemorate survivors and victims of gun violence.

Why the Wear Orange campaign is important

Shortly after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in a Chicago playground on January 29, 2013, her childhood friends began wearing orange in tribute and to commemorate her life.

Color is what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.

“After we lost Hadiya, there were a lot of emotions,” Nza-Ari Khepra, founding member and president of Project Orange Tree, an organization created by Pendleton’s friends, told CNN in 2015. The conversation motivated students and community members to get involved.

Members of the local community held candlelight vigils and food drives and wore orange.

The orange color was chosen to signal that wearers do not want to be the next victim of gun violence and to symbolize the value of human life, Khepra said.

Andy Cohen wears orange in the Empire State Building to honor National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 1, 2018 in New York City.
Slaven Vlasic//Getty Images

National campaign

What started as a small movement in a Chicago high school quickly grew into the national campaign led by Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit gun advocacy organization, to prevent gun violence in the United States.

The campaign was taken up by Amnesty International, the human rights group focused on international non-governmental organizations, and later organizations such as Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Caliber Foundation.

“Thousands of people wear the color orange to honor Hadiya and the more than 40,000 people who are killed with firearms and an estimated 85,000 who are injured by gunshots every year,” the campaign website reads.

“We are hosting Wear Orange events to remember the lives lost to gun violence and to raise awareness of this public health crisis.”

The campaign notes that every day more than 110 Americans are killed with guns and more than 200 are injured by gunshots.

“These survivors face a lifelong physical and emotional healing process,” he says.

Those looking to get involved and support National Gun Violence Awareness Day can Click here.

The campaign says participants can attend a community event, create a “wearing orange” image, upload a video background, print a poster, or use its coloring pages.

Khepra said that ultimately the goal of the campaign and the national movement is to raise awareness of gun violence.

“There are so many people who I believe will want to be part of this movement,” she said. “They just need to know.”

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