The Steven Ward Story

On the evening of Saturday, December 1, 2018, the South Shore Cultural Center was filled with over 400 beautiful souls who gathered to celebrate IMAN’s work. Among the many inspiring and memorable moments of the night, what stood out was the outpouring of love in the memory of Steven Ward.

As all those in attendance heard, Steven was a young man full of promise, determined to escape the pernicious cycle of violence. He immediately flourished in IMAN’s Green ReEntry program, changed his life and earned the love and respect of his peers and mentors. Sadly, just a few months into his training, he was shot and killed in his car with his pregnant fiancée and stepson while returning from a family outing.

The next day, the media reduced Steven’s life down to a sentence: just another black kid shot and killed in a gang-related homicide. The men in Green ReEntry and the leaders at IMAN all pushed back. We did so not only because we knew how false of an account that was, but also because every day we experience how the forces that diminish the humanity of these young men eventually lead to more shootings in the community, more police harassment, and more despair.

It’s fairly straightforward: when you’re repeatedly treated like you do not matter, you begin to believe it, and eventually that will shape who you become. We contend that the largely unchallenged set of beliefs that result in police shootings in Chicago and across the country are the same that spur internal violence in the community.

We must continue to fight back against the tainted and destructive narrative that demonizes us, and work to uplift a narrative that is more just and true—one that celebrates the aspirations, dreams and hopes of young men like Steven in the same way we would for our own children.

Please help us share this short video far and wide through all of your networks, and help us continue the critical work that Steven undertook by encouraging your families, friends and acquaintances to contribute generously to IMAN’s year-end goal.