Khamisa talked about how when he was a child he grew up in Kenya where he was born. Later on in his life he went on to study abroad in England where he learned to become an investment banker.
When he was living in Kenya and he had his son he felt that the safest thing to do for his family would be to move to America. He moved in 1974 and became a U.S. citizen in 1979.
His son Tariq Khamisa was a college student and was a pizza delivery man on Fridays and Saturdays. On Saturday Jan. 21 1995 Tariq was shot while delivering pizzas to a fake address. Tariq was 20 years old when he was killed.
The killer’s name was Tony Hicks who was 14 years old when he shot Tariq. Hicks was a member of a gang and was ordered to take the shot. He was tried and found guilty as an adult and was sentenced to prison until the age of 46.
After Khamisa had grieved over his son’s death he started the Tariq Khamisa Foundation. The foundation focuses on stopping youth violence.
“Our vision is a world free of youth violence. Our mission statement is to stop kids from killing kids,” Khamisa said.
Khamisa explained that they had three mandates. The first is to save lives of children, the second is to empower the right choices not the wrong choices, and the third is to teach the principles of non violence, compassion, and forgiveness.
After Khamisa set up the foundation he went to Hicks’ grandfather Plez Felix,who had been taking care of Tony, and said that he was not angry at him but instead he felt that they had both lost a son.
Once the talk was over Felix decided to help with the efforts of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation. He visits schools with Khamisa and teaches the kids about the wrongs of youth violence.
Not only did Khamisa reach out to Felix but he also forgave Hicks for the murder of his son. Khamisa talked about how forgiveness is a big part of what he teaches to children.
“We teach that we can all offer forgiveness instead of revenge, because revenge is a precursor of every new act of violence,” Khamisa said.
Khamisa said that he goes to schools around the country and teaches them about forgiveness and peace. He wants the children to realize that violence is not the solution to anything.
He feels that America can do great things and does great things but that it also can teach wrong things. He talked about how we send our music and movies out to other countries when some of these things can promote violence.
“While we are exporting the good stuff from here, we are also exporting our violence,” Khamisa said.
Khamisa said he wants to put an end to youth violence and hopes that many Americans will help him reach his goal.
After the speech Khamisa answered questions from the audience and it was clear that they enjoyed and respected what he had to say.
“I thought he was really a great speaker. He has great insight into how one is to forgive after a tradegy,” said Megan Lewis, 24, psychology.
Khamisa said that he loves to talk to kids about forgiveness and peace, and he hopes to continue doing so for a long time.
For more information visit www.tkf.org.