Rally in wake of Mt. Tabor school shooting calls for end to senseless gun violence

Local community activist David Villada embraces a student who attends Mount Tabor High School during the “Guns Down, Lives Up” rally held in Winston Square Park last week.

Rally in wake of Mt. Tabor school shooting calls for end to senseless gun violence
September 09
10:58 2021

In the wake of the shooting at Mount Tabor High School that took the life of student William Chavis Raymond Miller Jr. last weekend, nearly 200 people gathered in downtown Winston-Salem to call for an end to senseless gun violence. 

Here’s what we know about the shooting: At 12:07 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1, members of the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) and Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to Mount Tabor on reports of shots fired inside the school. The school was placed on lockdown and Miller was located, suffering from a gunshot wound. 

Miller was transported to Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he died after being treated for his injuries.

During the rally dubbed “Guns Down, Lives Up” held in Winston Square Park, more than 150 people, including elected officials, community leaders, and students who attend schools across the district, asked that the entire community rally behind the push to stop the violence and put the guns down. Many of the speakers also called for more mental health programs for students, after school programs, and conflict resolution initiatives. 

Longtime community activist and president of the Winston-Salem NAACP, Al Jabbar, said there’s a need to learn to resolve differences in other ways instead of violence. 

“We should learn how to resolve our issues with conversations and there’s some areas in our community and our city that we must begin to show love,” Jabaar said. “When a person feels it necessary to resolve a conflict by picking up a weapon and taking another’s life, there’s a lack of love.”

Shantae Graham, a partner with Enough is Enough, a local youth empowerment organization, said when she thinks about combating gun violence, the word that comes to mind is accountability. “Everybody plays a role in being accountable; if you see something, you say something,” said Graham as she addressed the crowd. 

Frankie Gist, founder of HOPE Dealers Outreach, told those in attendance that when he was 16 years old, he faced some of the same issues our young men are facing today: gang influences, guns, and losing friends through senseless violence. What turned things around for him was having someone in his corner who showed they cared and that’s what the community needs now. 

“You’re looking at someone at 16 years old facing 30 years in prison. I robbed, I picked up a gun, I’ve been shot at … and what it took to turn me around was someone took the time out to bring love back into my heart,” Gist continued. “It took love to raise me and I’m here to let you know today we will bring love back into our communities.” 

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board Chair, Malishai Woodbury, encouraged students to go to an adult if they have any information about violence being carried out in schools or in the community. 

“If you don’t come and tell me, your teacher, me, your administrator, what’s going on, we can’t intervene. You may have to lose a friend because you told on somebody, but you’re saving a life,” Woodbury said. 

Some of the most moving words during the rally came from students like Mary Bolton, a junior at Mount Tabor, who was in her U.S. History class when the tragic event occurred. She said even while experiencing such tragedy and uncertainty, the Mount Tabor community, students, teachers and staff rallied together. 

“The Mount Tabor community pushed through it,” Bolton said. “Even the worst of high school enemies came together.”

Quameka Shavers, local activist and former president of the Young Democrats of Forsyth County, said to make a real difference, the fight against gun violence has to be ongoing and is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

“I want you to know activism is a multifaceted opportunity. Sometimes you might not be a person who can physically be there, but sometimes you can donate. Maybe you’re a person who can attend the county commissioners and city council meetings, and help institute change and help organizations win funding to help with these after-school programs,” Shavers said . “I want you to know the opportunity to help is wide. But without funding and support, a lot of these organizations will not be able to continue the work that they’re doing because they need that extra hand.”

A GoFundMe page has been established to help support Miller’s family. For more information or to donate, visit   

About Author

Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors