She was fearless. She wanted to change the world. She said she would be a star someday. She said that up until she passed. I didn’t want it to be like this. She wanted to be the first female major league baseball player or the president. I would ask, “Do you mean first lady?” And she would say, “No, the president.”
Christina-Taylor Green, age 9, was a dancer, an artist, a little league player, and a student leader in her elementary school. On January 8, 2011, Christina-Taylor became an angel, too. The third grader was killed along with five others at an event hosted by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. After Christina-Taylor died, locals gave her the name “The Angel of Tucson.”
Christina-Taylor’s mother, Roxanna Green, spoke with Moms Demand Action’s Nicole Cunningham about the loss of her daughter and how she’s honoring her memory.
Q: What are some of the ways you are reminded of Christina-Taylor?
Roxanna: I will just never forget the Bruno Mars song that has the words, “You’re amazing just the way you are.” If we hear that song we think of her. She was ahead of her time in her musical tastes. She listened to pretty cool pop. She wasn’t into whatever little kids were into. She wasn’t a typical third grader.
Q: She was an “old soul”?
Roxanna: Yes, an old soul. Who would go to a political thing in third grade? I would be watching cartoons. That [a political event] wouldn’t be the first thing on our list. That was not typical for a third grader.
Q: She was born on September 11, 2001. Did she see that as a calling to make the world better?
Roxanna: Yes. I’m proud of her. She was fearless. She wanted to change the world. She said she would be a star someday. She said that up until she passed. I didn’t want it to be like this. She wanted to be the first female major league baseball player or the president. I would ask, “Do you mean first lady?” And she would say, “No, the president.” She really thought she could. It was from ever since she could talk until I kissed her goodbye. She had the philosophy that she could do whatever she wanted. She had it from the get go.
Q: On Christina-Taylor’s Memorial Foundation page, butterflies and angels are common symbols. Why?
Roxanna: The school called a month after she died. Apparently she had won an art contest with her butterfly drawing. She always loved butterflies and hearts. I always called her my angel in the wind. People started calling her the “Angel of Tucson.” It all goes together. The butterfly is free and flying away.
Q: There are so many people who are in positions of power and are doing very little to change things. Christina-Taylor made her years on this earth count for something. How do you express this strange paradox—that a little girl could work so hard and dream so big to make the world better, and our leaders do not always follow this same directive?
Roxanna: It’s really disappointing. People have to stop being selfish and fight back as much as you can. There are a lot of people out there who have more than they need. They need to start caring about people other than themselves. You have to teach them young. My mom raised me that way. I think the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We always did food and toy drives. Everybody can do it. Christina-Taylor was always like that. She had no choice. As a family, we did what we did. We decided as hard as it was to start a foundation, we wanted to make sure her dreams would come true. We’re doing the best we can to give back to our community and our country.
Q: What is your message to Congress, now that the public seems squarely on the side of some sort of gun control?
Roxanna: I just think it’s a no-brainer. I just want a vote. I’ve always wanted a vote. The senators and congress members need to do what the majority of Americans want to do. They can’t be NRA puppets anymore. I am just really proud of President Obama whom I’ve met and Vice President Biden for stepping up. I am really proud of them for stepping up to the plate. I think it’s going to happen, finally.
Q: How has your career focus changed since Christina-Taylor’s death? Are you involved in any advocacy?
Roxanna: I am the CEO of the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation along with my husband John Dallas Green. We have the office in our house. I was a home health care nurse before this happened. I recreated myself to do this job in my daughter’s memory. I have met President Obama a few times. I had a private meeting with Attorney General Holder. I did an ad with Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Q: Describe your family’s journey through grief.
Roxanna: It’s still like yesterday. I was writing a book and starting a foundation. I didn’t have the chance to grieve in the year after the tragedy happened. My second year was like my first year.
Q: Many people feel that discussing the killers in these mass tragedies will give them some kind of credit, or give them the attention they craved. Others feel that we need to learn about them so the public at large can recognize a threat before it becomes more than a threat. As the mother of a victim, what would you like to see from the media and others when the conversation turns to the killer?
Roxanna: My family doesn’t want to see his picture or say his name. I don’t want to see their pictures ever. I am not a surf-the-Internet kind of person. I don’t want to see it. I think we have to learn and we have to talk about it, but I can’t see the picture yet. Maybe someday. I never went to any of the court hearings. I respect all of the people who go. They want to look him in the eye. When you are that evil and sick… I don’t think it matters. I don’t think about him ever. He doesn’t’ exist to us.
Q: Tell us about your children’s book in progress.
Roxanna: I wrote it with Stephanie Innis who is a reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. It’s in Christina-Taylor’s brother Dallas’ voice. It is just the positive things about Christina—leadership, being involved in your community.
Q: The fight for better gun control can be very intense. It’s polarizing. How are you handling the pressure of this very difficult debate?
Roxanna: I am going to fight this fight until the end until I get what I want. I think we have to do the right thing for everyone else. I’m doing it for all the children out there and innocent people for the future. A lot of people think it’s because I’m angry. It think it’s the right thing. How could you not want to save lives? There are a lot of people living in such pain right now. The injuries suffered the day Christina-Taylor died—they are still there. It’s just everywhere. I’m doing this for Christina-Taylor and all of the children.