Black Lives Gray Matter series “Turns mourning into a movement”

The Black Lives, Gray Matter Symposium series is an assembly hosted at at community areas and universities with the goal to bring together local members of the communities and experts concerning our current social climate.

Black Lives Matter is an international movement that originated in the African-American community. The movement was founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi with the intentions of fighting against systemic racism and violence against the black community.

Since 2013, Black Lives Matter regularly protested against the deaths of several African Americans who died because of excessive police force, including Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Oscar Grant.

The forum consisted of guest panelists Wanda Johnson, Gwen Carr, and Sandra Rice, the mothers of Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice all of whom were victims to police brutality.

The panel opened up with several questions from the audience, inquiring about their experiences about police brutality and the aftermath following their son’s death.

What was the most impactful and most appalling thing you have ever heard or come across in the wake of the event?

“Well,” Carr said. “The most impactful thing I’ve seen was people all around the nation galvanizing, rallying, people I will never know, people I will never see, but they were out there. They were protesting because of my son and I just thought that was just beautiful because at least they took a look at things and see there was an injustice and they were willing and they were willing to step out there and stand up there for the injustice. So, that was just great.

After the news and attention died down, how was day to day life?

“I can say my birthday,” Johnson said. “December 31, will never be the same again. . . because the senselessness of him being killed is still so hard for me to grasp and you know just thinking about him going out and celebrating for New Years and coming thinking about him expecting him to come home and that never happened you know, not knowing that my birthday was the last time I would see my son.

In the aftermath of the events. what does Black Lives Matter mean to you?

“Well I think it should be a all matters movement,” Rice said. “But black lives matter. . So I am grateful for Black Lives Matter and them standing up for what they believe in and showing unity and solidarity. So yeah I’m happy about that.

Why is it important to tell the story of your experience?

“To continue to tell my story is to bring awareness, first of all” Rice said. “And you guys are our future, you are our youth and telling my story, it will get rooted deep inside of you to do right in this system. We have a lot of you guys being counselors, senators, or council people so we need to tell our story to bring a big impact on your heart so hopefully you guys can create some bigger change in the bigger offices. That’s why I think to tell my story.

How did you get the strength to speak out?

“I had to get my strength,” Johnson said. “My strength came from the Lord. I’m a very religious person because when it first happened I couldn’t do anything but take to my bed. . . I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up again. But then the lord spoke to me, and said, ‘are you going to lay there and die as your son has or are you going to get off that bed and lift his name?’ And you know what, I said he was right. If he died and then I died along with him, his legend dies. So I got the strength from the lord and from some good people I was associated with to get up out of that bed and turn my mourning into a movement.