My son Terence “Tee” Ryans and his best friend Darren “Skeets” Norwood were murdered on September 2,1990.
It was a beautiful Saturday, the 5400 block of Windsor was having their annual cookout. Tee, Skeets (nicknames) and Angie (Tee’s older sister) went to the Cherry Hill Mall. Later that evening, Tee & Skeets went to a movie theater. After the show, two neighborhood acquaintances asked for a ride home. As Darren got into the front driver’s side of his mother’s car, Terence was getting in on the front passenger side, and the two guys from the neighborhood proceeded to get in the back, five men dressed in black surrounded the car with Tec 9’s, killing Darren instantly while Terence died at the hospital. The two guys in the back survived.
It’s been 24 years and the memory of that night is still very fresh in my mind.
All five men were captured. We sat through four unbearable trials with no conviction. All five men were let go because there was not enough evidence to hold them.
Did I mention three to four hundred people were in the area at the time and not one person came forward?
Did I also mention black men (brothers) killed my son?
That year, 1990, there were 505 murders; TERENCE & DARREN were 502/503. That Labor Day weekend 13 murders.
For the last 24 years I have spent most of my time attending funerals, vigils, rallies and memorial services of young black beautiful and handsome girls and guys who have been senselessly murdered most times by another black person .
That hurts! Please know that if a Caucasian killed my son, the hurt would be the same, but to me I can’t seem to understand why we kill our own at an alarming rate. We know the enemy doesn’t care for us but we should care for each other.
I belong to several advocacy groups whose mission is to bring an end to these senseless murders. I’ve been to Washington , Harrisburg and PHILADELPHIA City council trying to get our elected officials and politicians to legislate sensible gun laws and be more proactive.
My main purpose for doing what I do is to bring attention to the availability of assault weapons and to stress the awful effects of these violent acts.
I found an article I wrote in 2005 titled “A MOTHER’S CHALLENGE’ (End Street Violence). I felt really sad after reading the article because mostly everything I wrote then is the same now.
For example, GUNS are still easily available, blacks still murdering blacks, politicians still making promises and some pastors still refusing to address the issue.
Losing a child is one of the worse losses. I have buried my mom, dad and a sister whom I loved dearly but none compare to the loss of my youngest son “Tee.”
I cried and felt like I was unable to let go, feeling guilty that if I did not go on with my life I would betray Tee who had been denied that privilege.
Terence loved and enjoyed life, especially the time he spent at Cheyney University as a freshman.
He was a friendly guy who got along well with people. Ironically, he often said “if something is going to happen it will.” He also would say “why would anyone want to do anything to me? I don’t bother anybody”. That was how he was. Tee & Skeets were best friends. Ann (Darren’s mom) & I were pregnant at the same time. She had Darren in June and I had Terence in November.
I often carry a sign that reads: “Grew up together, Played together, Graduated together & Died together.”
We had their funerals together and they are buried side by side at Fernwood Cemetery.
Even though the murder rate is still high, I am still committed to being a part of the solution - reducing the number of murders in Philadelphia.
I WILL continue to attend rallies for peace, safer streets, and sensible gun laws.
I WILL continue to speak with our youth and young adults about the dangers of guns, the awareness of their surroundings areas and people.
I WILL continue to go to Harrisburg, Washington, City Hall Philadelphia and speak on behalf of my son Terence, Darren and all the others who have been innocent victims of senseless murders, telling whoever will listen something must be done to stop all these murders.
I do what I do in hopes that some mother’s child will come home tonight, go to college, be employed, get married, have a family and do all the things my son was not allowed to do because, somebody on the street was selling guns illegaly or some gun shop owner allowed some irresponsible customer (no background check or other proof) to purchase these guns.
We know the results: another mother crying, another destroyed family and neighborhood. There are no winners in this situation.
My prayer will be that the hearts of the powers to be, will be touched and they will begin to earnestly do something about this sad heart wrenching situation.
Our African/American children and others are losing their lives at an alarming rate.
I would also like to say to the African/American brothers who may have been involved or thinking about getting involved with the violent street life. Please think first, about your mother and how your action will affect her. Then think about what the consequences will be on you and don’t forget the others involved.
My challenge is to continue doing what I do.
-- Letter by Ms. Cherie Ryans, a grieving mother.