Five Mothers of the Movement endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton this weekend, with Trayvon Martin’s mother encouraging citizens to vote for her because “Your life depends on it.”
“I came all the way from Miami, Florida, with these beautiful mothers here, to tell you guys how important it is to get out and vote,” Fulton said at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sunday. “You guys have early election here, there is no excuse. No excuse for you not to vote and for you not to take a family member or a friend. It’s important. Your life depends on it. Trust me, your life depends on it.”
Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, joined other Mothers of the Movement this weekend campaigning for Clinton at numerous events in North Carolina. Mothers of the Movement is a group of mothers who have lost their children to police and/or gun violence. Fulton was joined by Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland; Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis; and Maria Hamilton, the mother of Dontre Hamilton.
Clinton joined the mothers at the Raleigh rally and at an event at a church in Durham.
“You have no business staying home in this election,” Reed-Veal said to the church congregation. “If you decide to stay home, shut your mouth. Do not complain about anything that’s going on, do not talk about your neighborhood, do not talk about your neighbor, do not talk about what’s not going on.”
Reed-Veal’s daughter Bland was found hanged in a jail cell three days after being arrested during a routine traffic stop. She believes Clinton is the only option on Election Day.
After the election “there will be a new sheriff in town,” Reed-Veal said, pointing at Clinton.
Carr, Garner’s mother, said that she initially avoided Clinton’s campaign. However, after meeting Clinton last November she was impressed by the candidate. Last month Carr said at a church in Philadelphia, “There’s power in the Black vote.”
Carr’s son was killed by a police officer in Staten Island in 2014. The 43-year-old father was put in a chokehold, and his now-famous last words, “I can’t breathe,” have been echoed by protesters and activists.
Clinton called all the mothers “extraordinary women.”
“They’ve all given me a lot of strength and encouragement. And they said things that I have carried in my heart,” she said. “Their hearts may be broken, but their souls are shining.”
On Saturday the women spoke without Clinton in a panel at Wake Forest University Pro Humanitate Institute.
Hamilton, whose son Dontre was shot and killed by a police officer in Milwaukee in April 2014, praised the Democratic nominee for her continued passion for women’s rights and the rights of all Americans.
“[Clinton] came to the ‘hood. She called to check we were doing okay,” Hamilton said. “That’s the woman who has been fighting for women’s rights. That’s the woman that has given her life to help the people of America.”
“My focus is on my son that’s in heaven, my son that’s on earth and saving other people’s children,” said Fulton. “We need to stay focused, we need to stay strong, and we can only do that through our votes.”
Fulton’s son was shot and killed in 2012 by a neighborhood watchman in Florida. The 17-year-old was unarmed at the time.
“When my son was murdered, that’s a day I’ll never forget for as long as I live,” Carr said. “Enough is enough. I’m going to do my part in trying to save America.”
The five mothers, as well as two others, also attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, at which time they expressed hope for a safer world for Black youth.
McBath said that while her son’s life ended, “my job as his mother didn’t. I still wake up every day thinking about how to parent him, how to protect him and his legacy, how to ensure his death doesn’t overshadow his life.”
McBath lost her son, Jordan Davis, to gun violence in 2012. Davis was shot and killed at a gas station by a white man after a dispute over loud music.
Now, McBath is using her position to bring about positive change: “We’re going to keep building a future where police officers and communities of color work together in mutual respect to keep children, like Jordan, safe. Because the majority of police officers are good people doing a good job.”
The candid conversation on stage was described by some as one of the most powerful moments at a political convention.