‘Our Kids Matter’ march marks anniversary of I-40 bridge shutdown

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On Monday, it will be a year since protesters shut down the I-40 bridge. The "Our Kids Matter" march marks the protest's one-year anniversary and focuses on the youth.

"All kids matter! All kids matter!" chanted the group as they marched downtown.

They were peaceful, yet passionate.

"We are out here marching and riding, because we want our children to stay alive!" yelled one protester.

They marched from Robert Church park to City Hall Sunday evening.

"We are screaming for help. That's all," said organizer Frank Gottie. "Our youth are dying every day."

A majority of the group was children.

"Everybody stop the killing. Keep on doing positive vibes," said 9-year-old Ayan Alexis.

Before the march, the kids jotted down suggestions on how to make Memphis safer and better for kids in every neighborhood.

"Being positive, staying together," said Alexis.

"Safer streets, better leaders in Memphis," said another kid.

Their ideas went into a box, and they hand delivered it when they got to city hall. They placed it right at the front door for the mayor.

"The mayor will hear the answers in this box. Lord, we pray something being said, something being done, and something being moved," said during a prayer at City Hall.

The focus changed from one year ago when protesters stormed the I-40 bridge.

Gottie helped organize both marches.

"They haven't given us anything we asked for. They gave us Director Rallings, but that's all I've seen they gave us," he said.

So this year, he decided to just focus on the youth.

"The kids need something. They got nothing to do," said Gottie.

Police definitely prepared. They escorted the marchers, lined the route and even had their chopper following the group.

Nothing distracted the group though. They say they're just fighting for their future.

The mayor wasn't at the event due to prior commitments. His staff sent us email saying the mayor will review the children's concerns.

They also listed some examples of what they are doing to help the youth:

The City of Memphis gave a copy of our Summer in Memphis guidebook to Shelby County Schools students before the school year ended. It details all the programs/activities the City offers youth. That booklet was free. It also lives online on the City's website at www.memphistn.gov.

While the City has increased its programming for youth, has increased library hours, and provides summer jobs for up to 1500 kids through our Office of Youth Services, Mayor Strickland continues to look for ways to do more for our children.

The city also just had a very successful job fair through My Brother's Keeper Alliance; 280 young people got a job, and another 200 were called back for a second interview.