The Trumpet is My Weapon Gun Exchange program was born out of a terrible tragedy within the New Orleans community earlier this month—the loss of nine-year-old Devante Bryant to gun violence.
Shamarr Allen, a local musician, program organizer, and the father of a boy the same age, said in the program's GoFundMe message, "I thought how easy it could have been for that to be my own son. My thoughts and actions immediately went to how I can contribute to reducing the chances of the continuation of this level of gun violence amongst our youth."
Allen turned to Instagram with the message, "To all youth in New Orleans, bring me a gun and I'll give you a trumpet. No questions asked. I'm doing this until I run out of trumpets."
He soon realized the difference a program like The Trumpet is My Weapon could make when adolescents began trading in their guns and turning instead to music. Allen immediately began fundraising for more instruments, as well as music books, and there has been an outpouring of support within the community.
"The Trumpet Is My Weapon is a mantra that I have used over the years. I began using that mantra because the trumpet really became my weapon and tool for my success. It has opened doors and sent me places that, as a kid from the Lower 9th Ward, statistics say I should have never been," said Allen.
Eventually, the program hopes to evolve and offer other instruments. Because New Orleans is a city whose foundation is inlaid with music, what better way to create real change and support youth in the arts? "The trumpet became a weapon that really saved my life, so I figured it may be able to have the same impact for another young person from New Orleans," said Allen.
For those wishing to donate, the link to the organization's GoFundMe
page can be found HERE.