Surviving Parents of Steven Odom

Kim and Ron Odoms

Dorchester, MA

On October 4, 2007, our youngest child, Steven, then 13 years old, was murdered. He was shot and killed while making his way home from just around the corner from where we live. That day set our family on a journey we could never have imagined. The journey of survivors of a homicide victim is the theme we live now.

As soon as we were able to get some presence of mind back from the initial shock and accepted that this was not a nightmare from which we would awaken, the journey has been full of questions. Initially, we asked why? Who did this? Now we ask, how can we add value to being a part of the solution-based process to end the violence that’s plaguing our community? That has become our quest.

Our faith in God has helped sustain our daily living. However, in the aftermath of our son’s murder, we have been drawn to the work of public health, and violence prevention and intervention. Our family has become advocates and activists. We have a voice at the table and at the podium from City level, to the State and National level. We are raising awareness that our children’s lives matter and it’s not ok that their lives are being taken. It is reprehensible that they are being dismissed as statistics and slandered by assumptions and stereotypes.

In addition to other organizations I have connected with, Mothers’ for Justice and Equality has been a great support in empowering the voice of the survivor. As a founding member of MJE, I have participated from its inception. My family participated in the first MJE Rally and March, engaged in conversation with Governor Deval Patrick, and attended several events at The Boston Foundation. At our monthly Empowerment Breakfasts, I embraced opportunities to address the gathering and to direct my family’s questions to Senator Scott Brown, and now Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren.

At 13, Steven was a writer. One poem he entitled “I AM”. It captures how children like Steven are so much more than a statistic. He wrote that he is basketball, drums and a person, and if you didn’t see him as that then you missed it, because, he wrote, “I’m so athletic, so talented, so joyful, and thankful, that’s who I am.” Through his school, Steven kept a peace journal and through it his voice still lives for us. There he wrote of the peace he longed to see in his neighborhood. We share his words as a way to honor Steven’s heart, which still beats for us.