I am fearless because life is a learning experience. There is a lesson in every accomplishment, every failure and every adventure. I’ve learned to trust the journey! - Briana Taylor, Founder of No More Rounds
Briana Taylor is an amazing activist, marketing professional, and creative genius. I am so inspired by Briana's story and journey. She started an anti-gun violence organization called"No More Rounds" to put an end to gun violence all around the world. Not only does she have events, programs, workshops, and creates inspiring content to spread awareness to end gun violence in her community, but she also makes an impact all around the world which is SO important. We have to get out of just our neighborhoods and join the fight everywhere. Briana's FEARLESSNESS enabled her to be present, make a difference, inspire many lives, and take action and that is what I love about her. Here is her story...
No More Rounds: End Gun Violence is an anti-gun violence movement I founded after the death of my friend Demetry Presley in hopes to educate the urban community about the rising gun violence epidemic, develop ways to protect our youth and inspire our generation to be more proactive. After witnessing such a tragedy, I took a step back to analyze the current state of urban communities and the direction we’re headed just didn’t sit well with me. The fact that very little is being done to address gun violence and the socioeconomic issues occurring in the urban community in general just didn’t sit well with me. To kick off NMR, I decided to produce a documentary that brought the effects of gun violence to the forefront. When speaking about gun violence, the public rarely sees the pain and trauma families and friends experience from losing a loved one, until it happens to someone in their family.
The mission of NMR is “To raise public awareness of the rising gun violence epidemic in America through education, advocacy, and collaboration. We will utilize all resources to promote a positive lifestyle and educate the public, policy makers, and media on the toll gun violence has on our children, communities, and future. We will support all gun violence initiatives and advocate for sensible gun legislation – without banning guns.” In order to fulfill that mission, my team and I have taken our educational program to schools, universities and youth organizations around New Jersey, collaborated with other organizations and non-profits to bring peaceful initiatives to our community, and have organized and participated in rallies and marches happening in our area to take a stand against the violence.
I have to add that “anti-gun violence” is not to be confused with “anti-gun”. When sharing my organization I often get turned away because people automatically assume that my organization’s mission is to ban guns completely and that is not the case at all. The mission is not to conflict with the 2nd amendment, but to address the irresponsible use of and easy access to guns.
I have attended amazing marches, protests, and walks that I was so inspired to be apart of.
March 3rd 2013 Suffrage March Reenactment Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (DC)
This reenactment march was a life-changing experience for me. To retrace the footsteps of my founders, to actually stand for something, really opened my eyes and sparked a flame in me to do more within social action and fight for social change. During this march, I only planned on being a part of the crowd, but little did I know that my alumni chapter had different plans for me. My line sister, who was the state facilitator for New Jersey, was supposed to be there holding the state banner and since she couldn’t make it, I was volunteered. To be one of the faces of the state of New Jersey was such a humbling and memorable experience.
August 14th 2014 Day of Rage: Ferguson (Midtown NYC)
The Day of Rage was my first time completely stepping out of my comfort zone and into more of like a war zone. The plan was to meet in Union Square for a candlelight vigil. During the vigil, people began shouting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and expressing their anger toward the Mike Brown Tragedy and the events occurring in Ferguson. Afterwards a herd of people began marching up to Times Square to meet another massive group of protestors. As we approached Times Square, the vibe of the area had completely shifted. Tensions were high and I could feel so much hatred in the area. Once we arrived at the Ruby-Red Stairs in Times Square, I heard protestors shouting “No Justice, No Peace” and saw the NYPD surrounding the perimeter. At that moment, I had realized why tensions were so high; their presence agitated the entire crowd. There were times when they wouldn’t let us cross the street or leave the area. Those who didn’t obey them were made examples of, arrested in the most aggressive way possible and taken into custody. That agitated the crowd even more, the chants got even louder and the NYPD were getting deadly stares at that point. Before the protest dispersed, a news channel asked me to explain the shirt I was wearing, which was a NMR shirt and tell them all about my organization. My experience at the Day of Rage can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=briOh-NOyeE.
December 10th 2014 NJ Shut It Down (Downtown Newark, NJ)
Outside of NMR, I also work with the NJ Shut It Down movement which is an organization of New Jersey colleges standing together to fight the injustices of our judicial system. On Dec 10th, we organized a statewide protest to disrupt the flow of business as usual and shut down New Jersey. Newark was the central location and where many of the clusters of schools ended up. I started out at my alma mater, NJIT, collecting as many people as possible and went down to Rutgers-Newark to recruit students from there as well. We began our march down the middle of University Avenue chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” until we met the rest of our comrades at the intersection of Broad and Market. The minute we got there an outsider walked through our ranks and tried to distract us from the task at hand. He was removed from our circle and we had a die-in in the middle of the intersection. We had money die-in that evening; in the middle of McCarter Highway, in front of Newark Penn Station and in the Ironbound section of Newark (within walking distance of Penn Station). We covered a lot of ground that evening and turning Downtown Newark in the middle of rush hour into a parking lot. We also created a list of demands which we recited at every stop during our protest. We also disrupted the Christmas Party taking place at City Hall, where Mayor Ras Baraka was in attendance. He felt our rage, came out to talk to us and heard our list of demands. He was rather snobbish though, snapping back at all of our demands as if we were just a bunch of kids who needed to go back in the sandbox and play. Despite his attitude, I was pleased to hear of some of the initiatives that were coming down the pipeline. Some I witnessed came into fruition, such as the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
April 29th 2015 Freddy Gray Tragedy (Midtown NYC)
After the death of Freddie Gray and the “riots” of Baltimore occurred, the city of New York came together to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters affected by this tragedy. We convened at Union Square and marched up to Times Square. By this protest, the NYPD was tired of us protesting. They were extremely violent this night. Every attempt to take the street failed. The NYPD snatched up protestors without giving any warning. They snuck up behind protestors in the street to arrest them. Halfway up to Times Square, a young girl around my age stood in front of a car that was trying to drive through the intersection as we crossed. She was snatched up by police, slammed to the ground and was arrested. A woman nearby who was recording also was taken into custody. When we arrived at Times Square, tensions were still very high and the NYPD was just as aggressive as they were downtown. For some reason this protest dispersed a lot earlier than usual. I was on the subway home at around 10. Usually the protests don’t end until about 11pm or midnight. While I was on the train, I ran into a couple of people talking about the riots in Baltimore. My immediate thoughts were that my sign sparked their conversation. One side of their conversation agreed with the riots and the other side did not. The other side actually did not have enough knowledge on the topic to really pick a side, but their opinion was voiced out of ignorance and they had no intentions of educating themselves on the facts. I chose not to jump into their conversation, instead I glanced at a woman who shared my exact thoughts and chuckled a little.
May 2nd 2015 Freddy Gray Tragedy (Baltimore, MD)
A few days after the NYC protest for Baltimore, I was offered a ride down to Baltimore with the NYC Revelation Club. The trip was a mixed crowd and debates on the ride down were very interesting. When we touched down in Baltimore, I soon realized that this group, NYC Rev Club had a different agenda. They did not seem to want to stand in solidarity with the people of Baltimore, but instead they wanted to steal the spotlight from the topic at hand and act as “saviors” to Baltimore. They wanted everyone who rode down with them to pass out their flyers and hold their signs only. That was not what I signed up for and I did not agree with their approach of recruitment. I carried the sign I rode down with that read, “A riot is the language of the UNHEARD” By Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I opted for my own sign because it was relevant to the situation we were in and Baltimore indeed was not being heard until the youth started rioting in Downtown Baltimore, which I might add was the only place impacted by the riots. The media tried to make us believe the youth was destroying their own communities, but the youth are way smarter than that. Their own communities were already run down from the Baltimore Riots of 1968 and were never really rebuilt, so they hit the city where it hurt this time; destroying the businesses only visited by tourists and upper class folk who don’t give a dollar to rebuild the urban communities in Baltimore.
For this protest, everyone convened at Baltimore City Hall. Once again I felt like I was in more of a war zone than about to participate in a peaceful protest. There were hundreds of national guards surrounding the perimeter of City Hall with snipers on the roof of EVERY nearby building. I prayed so hard that everything would go as planned with this protest because I wanted to make it home that night. The media also played a role in tainting this positive event. I witnessed cameras getting footage of every agitator and distraction, instead of filming the vendors giving away free food/water to protestors, the youth with their “I MATTER” signs chanting alongside their elders or the Blood and the Crips joining forces to protect us from the police. We peacefully marched from City Hall to the torched CVS at the corner of Penn & North. After the protest, I knew I had made the right choice coming back to Baltimore no matter how nervous I was. To witness something as historical as this really put things in a different perspective and forces you to think twice about what you see on the Idiot Box [TV].
October 10th 2015 Justice or Else: Million Man March (DC
Currently I am working as a program manager in partnerships and licensing at WebMD. While at WebMD, I’ve learned the power of persuasion, how to be a better leader and how to launch/manage a portfolio of partnerships/initiatives at once. All skills needed for the relaunch of my organization, No More Rounds: End Gun Violence. Outside of work, I have been co-hosting a “Peace on the Streets” event series that addresses different topics affecting our youth, as well as continuing my journey to business school. Because getting into business school has become so competitive over the years, I have decided to not be as involved with NMR as I have been prior to starting this journey and dedicate most of my time to getting into a top tier business school where I wish to pursue an MBA in Brand Management and Social Entrepreneurship. My goal is to turn NMR into a social enterprise, leave my corporate title behind and fulfill my purpose of driving change in the urban community full-time.
Briana has proven to be an inspiration to her community as well as in society. Thank you for being FEARLESS, you are an inspiration to us all!
Learn more about No More Rounds and follow Briana's journey by clicking on the links below.
Briana Taylor Instagram
No More Rounds Instagram
No More Rounds Facebook