PHILADELPHIA -- Americans wore yellow ribbons to remember the hostages in Iran. In that same spirit, some Philadelphians are wearing green ribbons to express sympathy for the parents of missing and slain black children in Atlanta.
'I was just thinking what I could do in a small way in sympathy with the mothers down in Atlanta,' said Georgia Dean, a Philadelphia woman with seven grandchildren who began the campaign of support as the chain of Atlanta child murders grew.
Twenty black children have been killed or have disappeared in the same Atlanta neighborhood in the past 19 months, and two more have been reported missing in the past two days. Despite an intense investigation by a special police task force, no arrests have been made.
Mrs. Dean said she chose the color 'of the grass and trees' because for her it represents life. She got the idea to wear the ribbons from the yellow ribbons displayed as a welcome home message for the American hostages held in Iran, but the hope conveyed by the green decorations is much more grim, she said.
'There is no way we could bring the children back ... all we would hope is that no more children would be killed,' she said.
Support for the symbol is gaining momentum. Philadelphia City Council has passed a resolution encouraging the wearing of green ribbons to show concern for 'the black children of Atlanta.'
The black woman who described herself as 'a senior citizen,' says she has seen the ribbons tied to bushes and adorning the halls of schools and churches.
Mrs. Dean said she was surprised that people had tried to offer her money to further the green ribbon cause. 'I say 'What for? I don't want any money, I just want the kids alive.''
'The only thing to do is pray. There is nothing else you can do,' she said.