A father who lost his son to gang violence 15 years ago urged his audience at an Evanston Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event to use their resources to fight the gun lobby in Washington and Springfield.

Tom Vanden Berk, president and CEO of Chicago’s Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network, was the keynote speaker at the Seventh Annual Diverse Evanston Walks United (DEWU) program in the main auditorium of the Music Institute of Chicago’s Evanston facility at Chicago Avenue and Grove Street.

Vanden Berk, whose son, Tommy, was shot and killed in 1992, told an audience of about 150 young people, parents, teachers, youth workers, and elected officials, that “the enemy is people who make a ton of money off the gun industry,” and he challenged his listeners to use social media, letters, and phone calls to lawmakers to prod them into action on gun control issues.

“The older generation has failed you,” he said, but “you have the wherewithal and skills to do this.”

DEWU keynote speaker Tom Vanden Berk

Vanden Berk was introduced by Evanston Township High School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, who lauded the dedication, diversity, unity, and peace of the King Day event.

The talk climaxed a two-hour program of raps, songs, dances, poetry, and video clips by Evanston youngsters eager to curb violence in Evanston.

State senator Daniel Biss, State Rep. Robyn Gabel, and District 202 School Board President Mark Metz.

DEWU is co-sponsored by Youth Organizations Umbrella, the McGaw YMCA, the Music Institute of Chicago, the North Shore United Way, the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, and Evanston 150.

Following the program at the Music Institute, the event shifted to the McGaw YMCA, where it continued with lunch and an afternoon of workshops

Top: Some of the 150 persons who attended the event at the Music Institute of Chicago.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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1 Comment

  1.  He urged the crowd to fight

     He urged the crowd to fight the Gun lobby and that “the enemy is people who make a ton of money off the gun industry,” Who exactly does he include? Sounds as though he and his foundation have singled out gun manufacturers and those who lobby for gun rights. I guess thats a lot easier than examining the entire issue.    Apparently those in the entertainment industry that make a "ton" of money off of gun violence are excluded. Typical liberal rhetoric.

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