How the Black Community Of Pittsburgh Is Honoring D’Avry Thomas’ Life
A new community center in Penn Hills will be named for the 18-month-old who was killed Downtown in gun violence in 2022.
The family of D’Avry Thomas is on a mission to bring hope and positive change to the community in the wake of tragedy.
Moments after the June 7 verdict and the sentencing of two men charged in the drive-by shooting in Downtown Pittsburgh that killed 18-month-old D’Avry on May 29, 2022, his godfather, Kahlil Darden Jr., announced a new community center in Penn Hills would be named for the little boy.
The midday shooting on Memorial Day weekend shook the community and created concerns about safety in Downtown Pittsburgh. D’Avry was inside a car with his mother, De’Shea Green, near the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Stanwix Street when the shooting occurred. After a year of investigation and trial, Markez Anger and Londell Falconer Jr. were found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Darden of Penn Hills is the founder of Young Black Motivated Kings & Queens and says he is determined to keep his godchild’s legacy alive. The announcement came as a surprise to D’Avry’s mother, who was at the Allegheny County Courthouse with several family members.
The community youth center in Penn Hills is expected to open later this year. It will be named Young Black Motivated Kings & Queens: De’Avry Thomas Community Center. The center will serve as a “one-stop-shop” for youth in the area, according to Darden, and will provide various activities such as arts and crafts, culinary classes, STEM programming and art studios.
“D’Avry missed out on so many opportunities,” says Darden, “This will be a chance to give those opportunities back to other kids.”
Young Black Motivated Kings & Queens is a community-based organization that aims to bring together and strengthen the Black youth of Pittsburgh. In the face of “constant discouragement and scrutiny,” false depictions on social media and gun violence, Darden says he hopes to create a safe space for children and young adults who face scrutiny and tragedy.
Darden began this organization shortly after his uncle was a victim of gun violence in 2013. His loss gave him the courage to ensure this did not continue to happen to other families.