Gun violence victim deserved more than a 71-word news story

Joshua Stokes, like every victim of Chicago gun violence, deserves the decency of a more complete picture of his existence.

SHARE Gun violence victim deserved more than a 71-word news story
Joshua Stokes, 18, was found shot to death on in Austin.

Joshua Stokes, 18, was found shot to death on in Austin.

Sun-Times file

The Sun-Times recently wrote about the senseless killing of a young man named Joshua Stokes in just 71 words. There was no mention of his accomplishments, family, legacy or any other detail about his human existence.

That is not enough. I have written more about Josh, even though, as his third-grade teacher, I am just a tiny spoke in the wheel that was Josh’s life. Josh — and every victim of Chicago’s daily gun violence — deserve the decency of a more complete picture of his existence.

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Here are just a bit of the vibrant details:

Joshua Stokes of North Lawndale was a strong, sensitive and loving young man. He came into my Chalmers School of Excellence classroom for the first time when he was 9. The first week, he helped me tape down name tags and read a joke book that was in my classroom library.

Josh was one of those kids who stuck with you after the school day was over. Josh ate lunch with me often, even after he was out of my classroom. We had an easy bond. He had warm, dark brown eyes. He talked about the big things he was going to do with his life, often involving his brothers. He loved sports, he loved his family and didn’t like the school pizza.

When he laughed really hard, he looked up at the ceiling. He was a brother, son, student and human being.

Josh wrote letters to people he cared about. One of the notes he wrote to me in fourth grade is in my “bad day” folder. Lots of educators have one of these. You fill it with pictures, notes and artwork from students throughout the years, and you pull it out on one of those long days when you really doubt your impact on your kiddos.

Josh had a profound impact on me as an educator. I used his name in word problems, I told stories about our time in class together, and pictures of us together live in my “favorites” folder on my phone.

The article barely even acknowledges Josh’s existence. I am not going to let a newspaper take that away from him, or from me. Joshua Stokes, you were loved, valued and important. You mattered and will always matter to me. I love you, buddy.

Kerry Shanahan, former Chicago Public Schools teacher, Downers Grove

Don’t delay construction on Obama Center

As an African American, I am of course bothered and hurt that a noose was found at the Obama Presidential Center construction site. But it’s ridiculous that work may be shut down now because of it, as the project leader said.

That actually gives power to the person who put it there. And to post a $100,000 reward to catch the person, when rewards to catch murderers are often far less, is also ridiculous. Yes it’s terrible, but it’s a piece of rope.

These are tough construction workers. No reason not to keep working. If a federal lawsuit couldn’t stop construction, why do we let a piece of rope stop construction?

Malcolm Montgomery, Flossmoor

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