A Prayer Unanswered Meets Rebecca Strauss

“God Please Watch Out For Him”

But What Happens When This Prayer Is Not Answered?

Fay Rackley, holding an image of her deceased grandson Kenneth Keith Rackley

Massachusetts – the state with the lowest gun-violence-related deaths in The United States, has long forgotten about its bereaved mothers in the wake of its safety success. While many have turned a blind eye to Boston’s gun violence victims, Waltham resident Rebecca Strauss is as disturbed as ever. With a hunger to help and a professional orchestra at her disposal, Strauss combined her passions to comfort the community.

With a warm smile and an unwavering trust in an unknown freshman, journalist in training at Brandeis University, Strauss selflessly sacrificed her Thursday morning to introduce me to members of the support group, Legacy Lives On. I was met by four African-American women, harbouring years of distress in their luminescent faces and immense strength in their cheerful eyes. 

“Just give us the hope and the faith that our loved one will live on forever,” Fay chanted as if repeated countless times before.  I was hurled into a new world, pacing breathlessly around my subjects with a camera and recorder. Slowly, their unfamiliar faces vanished as they shared each powerful, intimate story; they spoke individually of the deceased as well as their personal struggles. Many expressed concern for their mental health following the premature death of a family member. “My family members don’t really reach out to me, they never took me serious because … I didn’t get hysterical,” explained one woman. Others spoke of their battles with past drug and alcohol abuse as a method of freeing themselves from their painful realities. 

While Rebecca helps heal the Legacy Family through music, they return the favour.

One month later, I joined friends and family of the Legacy Family at Rebecca’s concert – “Harmony and Hope: Responding to Violence with Music.”

The Concert

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 ” It’s like god sent you (Rebecca) from somewhere. It’s like something that hurts so bad, but when we come to you, you give us a chance to let it out and let it go. ” – Fay Rackley

In the final moments of that memorable morning, one Legacy member expressed her gratitude; she explained that my interest in their hardships “brightens your day, cause to go home you know someone cared.”

They were no longer strangers. They were no longer the forgotten.  Rebecca  gave them a voice.  





Story Pitches

Story Pitch 1: Sudden Termination of Julius Caesar Jukebox Musical 

On January 23rd at 8:30pm, members of the cast and crew of Julius Caesar Jukebox Musical received an email regarding the termination of the performance.  Matt Hoisch, the director of the show, stressed his appreciation for the cast and crew, however explained he was not eligible to successfully direct the musical. Tres Fimmano, the director of lighting, and Matt Hoisch  would be potential interviewee subjects.  The general theatre community at Brandeis was never made aware of the sudden cancellation, leaving many excited musical enthusiasts confused and disappointed. 


Story Pitch 2: Staff Upset Regarding Opening of Dunkin Donuts in Upper Usdan? 

Dunkin Donuts opened a new location at Brandeis University; the branch is now located in Upper Usdan. While many enthusiastically anticipated its opening, it seemed employees of nearby coffee venders were not as enthused.  Employees at Brandeis’ Starbucks surveyed customers regarding their perception of the coffee at Dunkin Donuts, often adding that they were dissatisfied with its “watery” taste. One employee explained that the coffee was cheap and Starbucks’ was of a higher quality.  Potential interviewees include employees at both Starbucks and Dunking Donuts. The report aims to better understand the apparent tension between the employees of both venders.


Trump’s Move on Abortion

Trump, surrounded by a group of men, reinstated a law which banned the use of federal money to fund international groups which perform abortions. The controversial image of President Trump and five men making decisions regarding the bodies of women, angered feminists around the world. While Trump was pro-choice in 1999, he quickly adopted an anti abortionist mindset and reported that women who have abortions after the practice is forbidden should receive “some form of punishment.”

Boston Women’s March

The Boston Women’s March rallied over 135,000 distressed protestors. The event organizers originally estimated a turnout of 25,000, however, their calculations were quickly proved incorrect – by the 17th of January, 60,000 had registered for the march. Unsurprisingly, Trump tweeted, “I don’t always agree” in response to the protests, however recognized “the rights of people to express their views.   Hypocritically, Trump proceeded to ban EPA employees from from publishing press releases and more generally communicating with the public.