politics

These amazing mothers just stopped an entire nation.

What would you do if you suddenly lost your child?

How would you honour them and their memory?

If they had been killed in a high-profile way, perhaps by a police officer, or a neighbourhood watchman gone rogue, or had died mysteriously in custody after a traffic stop on their way to job interview, what would you do?

For these mothers, this isn’t a hypothetical question.

Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin’s mum), Geneva Reed-Veal (Sandra Bland’s mum), Lucia McBath (Jordan Davis’ mum), Gwen Carr (Eric Garner’s mum), Cleopatra Pendelton (Hadiya Pendleton’s mum), Maria Hamilton (Dontre Hamilton‘s mum), Lezley McSpadden (Michael Brown’s mum), and Wanda Johnson (Oscar Grant’s mum) have all lost a child.

Today they turned their grief into a nation-stopping address.

Taking the stage at the Democratic National Convention, after Hillary Clinton officially made history as the first major party female nominee for United States President, the mothers endorsed Clinton’s candidacy, as a way to keep up the fight for their children, and the countless others that came before.

They blew everyone away.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter, Sandra Bland, was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” Geneva Reed-Veal said.

“I’m here with Hillary Clinton because she is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names.

“Hillary knows that when a young black life is cut short, it’s not just a personal loss. It is a national loss. It is a loss that diminishes all of us.

“What a blessing to be here tonight, so that Sandy can still speak through her mama. And what a blessing it is for all of us that we have the opportunity, if we seize it, to cast our votes for a president who will help lead us down the path toward restoration and change,” she said.

Her words were echoed by the other mums.

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“You don’t stop being a parent when your child dies,” Lucia McBath said.

“I am still Jordan Davis’s mother. His life ended the day he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.

“I still wake up every day thinking about how to parent him. How to protect him and his legacy. How to ensure his death doesn’t overshadow his life.”

“We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and urging you to say their names,” McBath said.

“We’re going to keep building a future where police officers and communities of color work together in mutual respect to keep children, like Jordan, safe. Because the majority of police officers are good people doing a good job.”

Trayvon Martin’s mum, Sabrina Fulton, said she didn’t want to be up on that stage.

“I am an unwilling participant in this movement. I would not have signed up for this. None of us would have,” she said.

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven. And for my other son, Jahvaris, who is still here on earth.

“I didn’t want this spotlight. But will I do everything I can to focus some of that light on a path out of this darkness,” she said.

The women stood together, not all of them spoke, but their words united the conference floor in a way that the Democratic convention has not seen so far.  (Although the Bernie or Bust crowd had already walked out.)

They were met with chants of “black lives matter”.

On social media, it was all anyone could talk about.

As Elizabeth Banks came out to introduce the next section of the night, she confessed their words had gotten to her.

“I’ve been backstage ugly crying.”

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