Sharrice M. Perkins was laid to rest today during a teary-eyed funeral ceremony in which relatives and friends emphasized her inner and outer beauty, and the church’s pastor urged the community to work together to heal itself.
Perkins, Genevieve Phillip, and Kristen Lartey, all 22, were fatally shot Aug. 12 as they sat in a parked car near Perkins’s home on Harlem Street in Dorchester. A fourth woman, whom police have not identified, was also shot but survived. Boston police said the murders could be gang-related, but have not reported making any arrests.
Today at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan, Perkins was the subject of both memories and calls for the community to end its silence and help law enforcement capture those who killed her and the other women.
“Violent criminals are not afraid of police, of the clergy, of politicians or jail,” said Bishop John M. Borders III, pastor of Morning Star, during the service. “They’re only afraid of one thing, the light.”
He added: “We have to expose the darkness... we must call names. We cannot be afraid of exposing what we know to authorities. Flood the lines! We need to learn to report all suspicious activity the same way we report a suspicious bag at the airport.”
Chanel Charles Gows, who works as a secretary at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science, remembered Perkins as a fashion trend setter with a bright smile.
“This is family,” Gows said, standing about 10 feet from Perkins’s casket.
Gows then sang a solo, “Eyes on the Sparrow.”
The service drew some 1,000 people to the landmark church on Blue Hill Avenue and several mourners, who accented their clothes with purple in Perkins's memory, took to the podium to share their memories. Many described Perkins as a beautiful and dependable friend.
Perkins’s mother, Angela Francis, told mourners that she considered her daughter a “daughter mother.”
“Even though I won’t see you sitting in my chair or laying in my bed, I will still feel your presence,’’ Francis said.
Chris Perkins, the victim’s brother read a poem.
“When you said ‘I love you Lil Bro,’ I used to shrug you away, but now Big Sis, I would do anything to hear those words today.”
A woman who described herself as Sharrice’s best friend cried uncontrollably as she told the audience how Perkins came to the aid of her family when their house burned down in January.
“I love her so much, this hurts so much,” the woman said as she held her small son, Da’Vaughn Bailey, and wiped a stream of tears from her face. Perkins was the boy’s godmother.
Danielle Bennett, Sharrice’s cousin delivered a moving prepared statement.
“Young and free-spirited, Sharrice was not afraid to try new things and express her inner beauty. She loved being beautiful by keeping up with the latest fashions, hairstyles and dazzling nail designs.”
Perkins’s long connection to double dutch jump roping was recalled. With her mother often serving as her coach, Perkins spent several years as a double dutch team member, including one year where the team won a national championship.
By the age of age of 15, Perkins became the mentor and started working as a double dutch coach at the White Stadium Sports Center, a city-run summer program for youths, and then as a judge. She worked at the sports center until last year when she left to become a concierge at the Midtown Hotel in downtown Boston.
“To her family and friends Sharrice was the ‘Double Dutch Master’, through her strength and perseverance was able to grow from competitor to coach and finally to a Judge in the “American Double Dutch League,’’ the program reads.
Reverend Gary Adams, Perkins’s uncle-in-law, gave the eulogy. At moments he roused the crowd with rapid sermon-line oratory, drawing amens and clapping.
And then he slowed down his speech, letting his words hang in silence.
“Sharrice had moxie, she had courage, she had guts,” Adams said. “Sharrice had flavor.”Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org