NORTH MIAMI — On Saturday morning, just as the sun rose, the tents fell, and nine men on a hunger strike for 22 days packed up in preparation to go home.
As people gathered with cheers, the Hunger 9, as they called themselves, were surrounded by friends, family and members of the community. One woman brought soup for the men, who lived for the 22 days in a lot in Liberty City inviting community members, officials and activists to find solutions for the gun epidemic.
As the nine men broke their fast, they vowed their work will never stop. Satisfied with the response and the message, Anthony Blackman said he even felt years younger.
“We believe it had a strong impact on them [kids] because there are not a lot of black role models in this area. We believe we sent the message of love,” said Blackman, “that black men love them, and black men are willing to risk their lives for safety and their future.”
Blackman, also known as King Blackman, has composed a song for them, “Peacemakers,” the Hunger 9 Anthem.
Edward Haynes suffers high blood pressure and had to sign a waiver to participate. Haynes said hunger rarely crossed their minds, attributing that to the constant creativity and support.
“We fed on each. When you do this alone — when you have those periods of doubts, weaknesses there’s reinforcements,” said Haynes, “Here we all know we all going through the same thing. We didn’t even think twice about it. “
According to Haynes, the Hunger 9 were inspired, as people flew in from California and Chicago to hang at the lot the shirts of loved ones taken in by gun violence. One man came to tell them their story was reported in Jamaica.
A hunger strike that started on a Saturday morning finished on another Saturday morning. As it did, the Hunger 9 — members of community group of primarily black men called the Circle of Brotherhood — chants of “brotherhood” and clapping rang through the air. Hugs and tears were shared throughout the group, coupled with a few words from the men. Finally, the Hungry 9 spilled drinks on the ground, paying tribute to lives lost to gun violence.