The second night of the Democratic National Convention kicked off with a group of women who have just proven themselves to be the heart and soul of the convention: the Mothers of the Movement. The significance of the Black Lives Matter movement during this election cannot be denied, and the Democratic Party had a responsibility to make it a priority at the DNC. Those who worried that gun violence and racial conflicts would not be addressed in a way that was sensitive to both African-Americans and law enforcement, when both sides have experienced unbelievable loss in recent months and years, can breathe again. The nine brave mothers who joined together on stage in support of Hillary Clinton replaced that anxiety with hope for a more united future.
The mothers included Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland; and Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis. Prior to their stage appearance, a video clip showed Clinton meeting with the moms one year ago and simply sitting at a table listening to their stories. When asked what they can do to ensure their children didn't die in vain, Clinton made it clear that they should keep talking about their children — but that they also needed to band together in an organized fashion to demand change.
"She isn't afraid to sit at a table with grieving mothers and feel the full force of our anguish," McBath said of the Democratic nominee. "We are going to keep on telling our stories and keep saying their names."
These women experienced debilitating heartache, the worst anguish any woman or man can feel. But anger wasn't the theme tonight. Reed-Veal, whose daughter Sandra died in a police cell in Texas, introduced the group by thanking God and expressing how "blessed" they felt to be there to speak for their children. The Mothers showed how to mourn but how not to allow devastation to harden your heart, and keep you from believing a solution exists that would stop other mothers from experiencing the same loss.
"It’s not just a loss — it’s a personal loss, a national loss, a loss that diminishes all of us," Reed-Veal said. She then reminded us that we are "blessed" with a unique opportunity "if we choose it" (hint, hint: vote): to elect an official who will "lead us down the path to restoration and change."
That "change," McBath said, includes uniting African-American communities and law enforcement so that they can work together with mutual respect — but it requires that we first elect someone who will make it a priority to bring people together and not divide them.
"You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies, you don’t stop being a parent," McBath said. "I still wake up every day thinking about how to parent him, how to protect him, how to ensure his death doesn’t overshadow his life.”
One of the most gut-wrenching moments took place when Fulton, whose son Trayvon Martin was just 17 when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, confessed she wished she wasn't a part of the Mothers of the Movement.
“I am an unwilling participant in this movement,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight, but I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain.”
Fulton then explained why Clinton is the only candidate capable of healing these wounded communities and targeting gun violence in a meaningful way.
"Hillary Clinton has the compassion and understanding to support grieving mothers and the courage to lead the fight for commonsense gun legislation," she said. "This isn’t about being politically correct — this is about saving our children."
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