Sherrone Jenkins wasn’t one to ask for help.
After her 9-year-old daughter, Sherdavia, died from a stray bullet while playing just outside their Liberty Square apartment — the quiet matriarch of the Jenkins family mourned for the loss, but tried desperately to conceal the full depth of her pain from those around her.
“She wouldn’t really talk about it,” said Tiffany Yarn, a close friend who met Jenkins just a month before the 2006 shooting of young Sherdavia, which focused attention on the issue of gun violence in Miami-Dade County’s mostly black neighborhoods. “She can’t let them see her head down.”
So, when Jenkins began complaining to her friend about a pain in her stomach, Yarn said she sensed it was serious. Nevertheless, Jenkins tamped down concerns by hiding her illness as best she could.
“She just never wanted us to worry about her,” she said. “She would like to hide it.”
Jenkins, who held an annual vigil for her daughter at the eponymous Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park in Liberty City, died on Oct. 7 after a battle with aggressive, stage-four cancer. She was recently hospitalized while she recovered from a related surgery, her loved ones say.
Jenkins, 49, is survived by her daughters Catherine Jenkins and Sheronda Williams; her sons David Jenkins, Jr., and Daryel Pettie; and her ex-husband David Jenkins.
Catherine, 20, is planning a vigil to honor her mother at the Peace Park, located at the corner of Northwest 62nd Street and Northwest 12th Avenue sometime before what would have been her mother’s 50th birthday on Nov. 4.
“She was really caring and thoughtful,” Catherine said. “She wanted to help people as much as possible.”
Catherine was 8 years old when her barely older sister, a gifted student entering the fourth grade at Lillie C. Elementary School, was gunned down outside their Liberty Square apartment. Sherdavia — a chess player, video gamer and aspiring web designer — was struck during an exchange of gunfire between two men as she played with a friend on her porch.
“My baby came in here like a wounded animal,” Jenkins said at the time, with anger in her voice.
Like most killings of young victims before her’s, Sherdavia’s death sparked a major movement against gun violence, and then-Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Marco Rubio attended a memorial service for the slain child.
Between 2006 and 2016, gunfire took the lives of 316 children and teenagers in Miami-Dade, including 18 children under the age of 12, according to a Miami Herald analysis of Dade Medical Examiner data. More than 75 percent of those who died were black.
Jenkins had grown frustrated at the inaction of politicians and community leaders to address gun violence and neighborhood safety.
“Nothing’s changed. Everything’s the same,” Jenkins said in 2016. “Politicians come by and give their respect. When Sherdavia’s park was built they promised benches, tables for kids. Sherdavia would be 19 in a couple of weeks. I don’t see the change.”