Responding to the Darryl Williams Aftermath

Some stories never end, and too often the media let them drift from public consciousness. Not so, Brian McGrory. His moving column Wednesday  on the aftermath of the Darryl Williams shooting is a powerful reminder that some people just can’t catch a break.

Darryl was a football player from Roxbury playing for J.P. High when he was gunned down at a game in Charlestown. The year was 1979, and racial tensions in some neighborhoods were still raging in the wake of the busing uproar that started five years before. He was a good kid and a responsible student, and the shooting left him a quadriplegic. Two white teenagers were convicted, but many people wanted more in the way of revenge. Darryl’s mother, Shirley Simmons, called for prayer and peace. She gave up her job and cared for Darryl for more than 30 years, until his death at the age of 46, two years ago.

Darryl had worked as a motivational speaker, trying to replace hostility with love and compassion, but Shirley Simmons’ troubles endure. She is three months behind in her mortgage payments, and, McGrory says, the Stoneham Bank is beginning foreclosure proceedings. Are the bank’s policies so cut and dried that there’s no alternative for Simmons but homelessness? Over the years many people said they’d help, but never followed through. This woman has spent her life cleaning up after the community’s dysfunction, and lost her son to its violence. Must she give up hearth and home as well?

A fund established in Southie after the original tragedy occurred has been closed out, but there is another option. There is a Darryl Williams Fund, at The National Consortium for Academics and Sport University of Central Florida, College of Business Administration 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando, FL 32816. Checks can be made payable to The National Consortium for Academics and Sport, and write The Darryl Williams Fund in the memo space. Why Florida? You may remember Richard Lapchick, who used to run Northeastern University’s Sport in Society program. He stayed close to Darryl and is working in Florida now. Lapchick told me that 100 percent of money donated will go to Shirley Simmons.

Private contributions will only go so far. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Stoneham Bank, whether for goodness or just good brand marketing, worked things out with Darryl’s mom so she could stay in her home?
Photo ESPN

I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts in the comments section below.

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