Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a Mother’s Day Walk for Peace?

The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is an annual fundraiser for families across the region to honor the lives of our loved ones who have been killed, celebrate the courage of community, and sustain the Peace Institute’s programs and services. 

The Mother's Day Walk for Peace started in 1996 so mothers of murdered children could receive support and love from their neighbors. Twenty-one years later, the Mother’s Day Walk continues to be a powerful way to honor our loved ones who have been murdered and embrace our partners in peacemaking. 

Over the past twenty-one years, the Mother’s Day Walk has become a time-honored tradition when families of homicide victims can honor the memory of their loved ones and neighbors can commit to creating more peaceful communities. Every year thousands of people participate including survivors, allies, business owners, elected officials, providers, the faith community, and law enforcement.
Who does the Walk benefit?
The Walk benefits the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a center of healing, teaching, and learning.

The 2017 funding priorities are:

  • Intergenerational Justice Program (IJP) provides coordinated support and guidance to families of murdered victims and families of people arrested and incarcerated for murder in order to create opportunities for healing, reconciliation, and accountability.

  • Training and Technical Assistance Center equips public health professionals and institutional stakeholders to respond equitably and effectively to families impacted by murder.

  • Statewide Survivors of Homicide Victims Network convenes and supports survivors who are working together to impact, inform, and influence public policy.

  • General operating funds to sustain our center of healing, teaching, and learning.

Our family has plans for Mother’s Day, can I walk and spend time with them, too?
Absolutely. The Walk wraps up around noon so we hope you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of Mother’s Day with your family. Why not ask your loved ones to start the day by walking with you?

How do I get there and what about parking?

The Walk is on a Sunday morning so there’s very little traffic. If you have a GPS, program in 1505 Dorchester Avenue, Boston. This will take you to the Blarney Stone Restaurant –a great place to eat after the Walk. There is a large parking lot adjacent to the restaurant as well as ample on street parking. If you are coming by public transportation, take the Red Line to the Fields Corner Station. Get off on the Geneva Avenue side and follow the purple arrows to Town Field Park. Let us know if you need a ride or want to carpool with others from your area.

Can someone from the Peace Institute come to speak about the Walk at my organization?
We would love to! Our team tries to accommodate as many requests as possible. To book a speaker from the Peace Institute to talk about the Walk, please email 

What can I expect on the day of the Walk?
Look forward to a beautiful day full of family and fellowship! Save time and avoid standing in line at the registration table by registering beforehand online. We ask walkers to gather with their teams. Please feel free to bring signs, banners, and wear purple or clothes memorializing your loved one.

The day will open with speakers and a warm-up at Town Field Park in Dorchester. We will then walk together to Madison Park High School, where more families will join us. Then we will walk together downtown. The walk is a total of 6.8 miles. We move at a slow and steady pace. There will be water and bathroom stops along the route. We will close the walk with music, speakers, and a celebration at City Hall.

I can’t physically make it to Dorchester the day of the Walk - are there other ways to participate?

The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is the Peace Institute’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The most important way to participate is making a donation that’s meaningful to you. You can donate directly to the Peace Institute, give to friend or family member’s team, create a Virtual Team and host your own Walk event in your neighborhood or faith community. This can be done the day of the Walk or on another day. One person emailed her friends and asked them to pledge as a way to honor a dear friend who had died. A Sunday school in Waltham held a walk around their church one day and raised funds for the Peace Institute. Talk to us-- we can help you! 
I’d like to participate in the Walk though some of my friends are concerned about going to Dorchester.
The Walk is a safe, family friendly event. We encourage you to come and experience the beauty and assets of all the neighborhoods in between Fields Corner and Boston City Hall. The media tends to focus only on the bad things that happen in Dorchester and Roxbury, rather than the families who want to raise our children in peaceful communities and all the peacemaking work we do. The stereotypes and stigma imposed on urban neighborhoods actually prevents families living here from receiving the support and services we deserve. The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is an opportunity to resist shame and blame, and demand dignity and compassion for all families. 
I’d like to understand more about the neighborhoods we’re walking in -- Why is there so much violence in this small cluster of communities?
Some people have told us that participating in the Mother's Day Walk for Peace marked the beginning of a process of challenging assumptions they had about what causes violence in urban neighborhoods. It is easy to look at this problem and focus on a few individuals. In fact, violence is a product of structural issues like institutional racism that leads to economic inequality. We also recognize that trauma is generational and fuel cycles of violence.  We encourage Walkers to consider the root causes of violence including lack of access to adequate housing, healthcare, education, and employment. We also ask Walkers to invest in community-based solutions like the Peace Institute’s programs and services in response to these complex problems.
Why is there such a division between our communities?
Segregation is an ongoing reality in Boston.  This area has a history of what’s known as “redlining,” or contracts and bank lending policies that restricted eligibility for mortgages based on race. Boston continues to have one of highest rates of income inequality in the country and now one of the highest costs of living. This has fueled intense gentrification in our neighborhoods, with families who can no longer afford to live here being pushed out of town.

The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is a celebration of our potential to create and sustain more peaceful communities, where all families are valued and have what they need. Sometimes strong feelings may come up for people as they walk alongside families whose loved one was murdered. We encourage you to reflect on your experience especially if you are new to neighborhoods you’re walking through.  How can you deepen your understanding of the root causes of violence, including racism? What can you do in your own community to address violence and racism? We appreciate you for stepping out of your comfort zone to witness the assets in our community and show support and love for families impacted by murder. 

At the Peace Institute, we embrace our shared responsibility. All of us have a role in peacemaking. 

“Violence is not the problem of one neighborhood or group, and the response and solutions are not the responsibility of one sector of the community or of one agency, professional group, or business. Coming together and owning this problem and the solutions are central.” -Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Harvard School of Public Health

Origin of Mother’s Day – Did You Know?
In the United States, social activist Julia Ward Howe inspired the earliest Mother’s Day observance after the American Civil War. Howe, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was horrified by the carnage of the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. So, in 1870, she began a one-woman peace crusade and made an impassioned "appeal to womanhood" to rise against war. It was due to her efforts that in 1873, women in 18 cities in America held a Mother's Day for Peace gathering.


In Unity There Is Healing