Hundreds of family, friends, classmates, school staff, and the community arrived to celebrate the life and legacy of Davonte’ Marquise Washington. The Apr. 8 funeral service was held at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover, Md. The 15-year-old was killed Mar. 26 at the Deanwood Metro Station in Northeast Washington, D.C. before his mother and two sisters by a stranger who felt intimidated by Washington. The motive of the crime has been called “senseless” by the D.C. police chief and Davonte’s grandfather, Victor Leonard.
The packed crowd came into the church as the majority of youth but many adults expressed their sympathy as they walked by the gold casket, guarded by Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) cadets Davonte was part of. He was dressed in all white; with slit jeans, tennis shoes, and a gold chain placed above his white shirt.
“For this homegrown celebration, for this amazing young man, I want you to pay attention to what I said… homegrown celebration…we don’t do funerals here at First Baptist Church in Glenarden, we’re here to celebrate the life and legacy of this young man,” said John K. Jenkins, Jr., pastor of the church to applause. “Davonte’ Marquise Washington, as you can see by the multitude of people in here, questions of why, and violence, hurt, pain and suffering are here. But that’s okay; the fact of the matter is we will not mourn as those who have no hope, because everybody in this church knows that we have hope right now!”
The Order of Service in the program included a processional, an opening hymn by the Largo Senior High School Choir, scriptures by ministers, prayer, and acknowledgments, which was read by Gwendolyn Hicks the church clerk.
One item of acknowledgment came from the residents of Ward 7 and the Council of the District of Columbia by Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), who attended the service.
“To Davonte’s mother Rashida, every parent’s greatest accomplishment is evident through the life of their children,” read the salutation. “I know you, his father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and teachers were very proud of Davonte. His life touched many as he will be remembered by those young and old. He was an extraordinary young man with a bright future. My prayer is that his death will motivate us all to work harder to ensure the fate of our children and to end senseless violence.”
Anton Washington, Davonte’s English teacher at Largo Senior High School where Davonte was a freshman said to the mother, “Your son was amazing. Your son was incredible and your son was wonderful. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to teach your child.”
Other speakers were Dr. Afie Mirshah-Nayer, principal of Largo Senior High School and Major Gerald Barnes, AFJROTC, at Largo Senior High School.
Pastor Jay Cameron from The Life Center in Bowie, Md. gave an inspirational message using lines of scripture to get his points across.
“We don’t know what happened because it makes no sense. Davonte had the ultimate life insurance policy. Davonte said, “Yes Jesus, you are my Lord,” said Cameron.
“How can we honor Davonte’s life? It’s all about the heart. Don’t let society define you. Laws don’t change hearts,” he added. Cameron spoke of the spiritual battle people go through that overtook Davonte’s killer.
Maurice Bellamy, 17, of Southeast was arrested on Mar. 28 and charged with second degree murder while armed for killing Washington. Words started by Bellamy led to the fatal shooting. His next court appearance is slated for April 22.
A moving experience occurred when Cameron asked the youth if they were willing to accept God in their lives to come forward. A huge crowd flocked before the casket, some crying while hugs were exchanged.
“We will not let Davonte’s name go in vain, I promise you that,” said Leonard.
“This whole thing is senseless as to what happened,” Wilbert Harris, a cousin of Davonte told the AFRO after the service. ”As to what happened, I can’t even process this. This is the zone that I am in right now.”
AFJROTC cadets saluted the casket as it left the church and placed it in the back of a horse and carriage. Davonte’ Marquise Washington was buried at Washington National Cemetery.
This article was also edited and can be seen in another version at https://shar.es/1jPDO0.