My son Kevin served our country in Afghanistan, but his brother Kenneth died by gun violence right here at home.
Kevin left for his third tour of duty in Afghanistan a week before Kenneth’s death. In my mind, Kevin was the one who was in danger. Never in a million years would I imagine Kenneth would be the one to die from an act of gun violence, right here at home in a free country.
My son, Kenneth, was the center of our family. He was the first grandchild and became a role model for his younger siblings and cousins. At 31, he was the single parent of two little boys, and had another son on the way. He was responsible and considerate of the people around him. He had a very strong sense of family and was the one who would organize a barbecue if too much time had passed between family gatherings.
As Kenneth was leaving a bar with his friends, an argument broke out between two individuals outside of the bar. Kenneth intervened, attempting to diffuse the situation and make peace, when a friend of one of the individuals went to his van and grabbed a gun and started randomly firing into the crowd. Kenneth was struck.
And so when I’m asked if I support reinstating the assault weapons ban, this is what I say:
I support it for the mother that sent her child to school in Uvalde, Texas, who had to go to that very same school where a weapon of mass destruction meant she could only identify her child by the gym shoes that she wore to school that day.
I support it for the mother in Baltimore, while caring for her disabled husband, happened to go grocery shopping to pick up a few items and whose life was taken by an assault weapon.
I support it for my grandsons and for the children on the South and West sides of Chicago. As a minister, I have officiated the funerals of too many Black men in our community. How many young men and women have we lost who will never have the chance to reach their full potential?
We have children in Chicago who aren’t worried about growing up to be a doctor or a lawyer—they are just worried about growing up, period. I support the assault weapons ban because we’re accountable to those children.
So this Mother’s Day I don’t want prayers. I don’t want sentiments. I don’t want cards, and I don’t want flowers.
I want action.
I don’t think you can ever come to terms with the death of a child. It’s been 18 years since Kenneth’s death but life has never been the same, and it never will be. I want us all to be mindful of every mother and every survivor, remembering that they deal with the trauma of who and what they lost every day.
I refuse to keep burying our children in a free country.
The time is now for Congress to act on assault weapons. The time is now for us to understand the loss that every mother has experienced because Mother’s Day will never be the same for us.
And while assault-style rifles are the weapon of choice for those who carry out horrific mass shootings, we cannot forget those whose lives are taken in individual acts of gun violence every day in this country that don’t make national headlines. Yes, we demand that Congress get these weapons of war off our streets, but we also call on our lawmakers to take other meaningful actions to stop the daily gun violence that is ripping apart Black and brown families and communities.
To every member of Congress: Do your job so that we don’t have to rally around something that is so clearly the right thing to do. Our children should not have had to die in vain with nobody to listen to their cries.
Our children are still being heard because as I always say: Don’t put a period behind our children, our children and our loved ones are still speaking as long as we’re still standing and we’re taking this fight to the Hill to be heard.
Not one of us can do what all of us can do together.
We’re here. The time is now. Let’s go.
Join Us for Mother’s Day of Action
Volunteers in congressional districts across the country will come together on Saturday, May 13, 2023 to demand one immediate solution, that the US House of Representatives take action and move to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We will rally, hand out flyers, phonebank and march to demand a ban on assault weapons.Find a Rally