On a night when speakers, including former President Bill Clinton, were charged with humanizing the woman aspiring to be the next president of the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement was humanized by a special group of women — the mothers of African Americans slain without cause in recent years.
The Mothers of the Movement represents an extraordinary group of women courageous enough, despite their obvious continuing grief and pain, to tell their story across the nation elevating the idea that it is time for reforms in policing and criminal justice in America.
This is a club whose membership is growing much too quickly, for we know the nine women on stage represented only a fraction of the thousands of mothers who lose their children to violence in our streets every year.
This very special group of women delivered a message last night at the Democratic National Convention: we can trust Hilary Clinton.
Geneva Reed-Veal choked back tears and invoked her faith throughout her brief remarks as she recounted the unexplained hanging death of her daughter, Sandra Bland, in a Texas jail cell after an unlawful traffic stop. Nearly a year to the day after burying her daughter, she stood on the stage in Philadelphia and declared her support for Clinton, “because she isn’t afraid to say our children’s names.”
While the nation is awaking more and more each day to the need for reform in policing and throughout our criminal justice system, in the classic 12-step approach, we first as a nation need to admit there is a problem. Saying their names and acknowledging that these lives taken so dramatically, violently and unnecessarily without any level of accountability, is the first step. Of course it goes without saying that all lives matter, but unfortunately we continue to live in an age where it must be said that black lives matter too.
We should all be proud that each of these women is willing to tell their story, to lift up their child’s names and continues to seek justice. At a time when it feels like the Civil Rights gains of the 20th century are eroding every day of the 21st century, it is the battle for the recognition of the humanity that African Americans share with all of humanity that continues.
See me as a person. Acknowledge my pain. Help me to seek justice. The Mothers of the Movement believe that Hilary Clinton does and will do all of those things, and that’s why they are supporting her for the highest office in the land.
Corey Ealons is a partner with VOX Global, a public affairs communications firm based in Washington, D.C, and a former White House spokesperson for President Barack Obama. Follow him on Twitter: @CoreyEalons and LinkedIn.