By Depelsha McGruder
Welcome to the first newsletter of Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. (MOBB United)! If you are new to the organization, we are thrilled to have you here. If you have been with us since our beginning on Facebook last summer, thank you for continuing with us on this journey. In case you’re not familiar with our history, MOBB United started as a Facebook group on July 7, 2016, immediately following multiple deaths of Black men at the hands of law enforcement. In particular, Alton Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 5 while selling CDs outside of a convenience store, and Philando Castile was killed in St. Anthony, Minnesota on July 6, 2016 following a “routine” traffic stop, with his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter in the car. We all experienced the graphic images of their brutal deaths on the news and in the case of Mr. Castile, who was a beloved Montessori school cafeteria worker, on Facebook Live. The frustration, fear, anger and anxiety we all felt then is what initially brought us together. What has kept us together is an unrelenting desire and determination to prevent our own sons and anyone else’s sons from reaching that same fate.
Since the founding of MOBB United, we have continued to grow and evolve organizationally. MOBB United now also includes an advocacy arm, MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. whose primary purpose is to influence policy impacting how Black boys and men are treated and perceived by law enforcement and society.
Over the past year, we have have been strategizing, organizing and activating all across the country. Both organizations have been busy! Here are a few of the things we’ve executed:
Moms of Black Boys United, Inc.:
- Attended funerals and provided support for those lost to excessive use of force. A delegation from Texas traveled to Tulsa, OK for Terrence Crutcher’s funeral and presented his wife with a gift. A delegation from California traveled to San Diego to support the family of Alfred Olango and in Los Angeles, provided tangible support to the family of Reginald Thomas, Jr. Our team also created the funeral program for 15-year-old Darius Smith, killed by an off-duty US Customs Officer in Arcadia, CA, in a gesture of MOBB outreach. MOBB United for Social Change urged the City of Balch Springs to push forward on urgently needed police reforms in response to the unjust killing of Jordan Edwards.
- Launched multiple image campaigns, including the #ProtectThem campaign to bring more awareness to our cause and promote positive images of Black boys and men, and the #MomsontheFrontLine campaign to pay homage to mom activists who came before us.
- Hosted meetings or events in more than 20 cities
- Partnered with Points of Light (POL) to execute a nationwide Mother/Son Volunteer Day of Service on MLK Day to teach our sons the importance of service and let the world see them in positive action (POL volunteer site)
- Provided personal support and connections to members in need, including connecting a mom with an attorney for critically needed legal help, helping moms navigate school disciplinary actions, and providing “MOBB Aunties Away from Home” for sons away for college.
- Hosted virtual seminars on topics including Know Your Rights (in partnership with the Legal Aid Society and National Association for Public Defense), Bullying, the 13th Documentary, Dealing with Trauma, isow.com (financial literacy and planning for children), the Legal Equalizer app, Discussing Racial Tensions in Schools, The School to Prison Pipeline, the Criminal Justice System from both sides of the cell (Booker Geez: “Locked Up and Put Away”), How to Handle Interactions with Law Enforcement (with Retired LAPD Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey, author Sonya Whittaker Gragg and parents of the “Michigan 5”) and a special Father’s Day Weekend discussion on the criminal justice system and current cases with Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt.
MOBB United for Social Change, Inc.:
- Rallied around multiple policy change actions, such as a de-escalation bill introduced in Congress last year (HR 5221), Raise the Age in NY, and The Sandra Bland Act in TX.
- Partnered with Louisianans for Prison Alternatives (LPA) to advocate for a criminal justice reform package to overhaul Louisiana's draconian criminal justice laws.
- Traveled to let our voices be heard all over the country – at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Conference in DC and in meetings with state legislators in Georgia, Louisiana, New York and California.
- Organized a voter education campaign to encourage members to learn who is on their ballot and to vote in their elections.
- Petitioned (via petitions, letters to officials, emails and calls) to hold law enforcement accountable in the cases of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Terrence Crutcher, Tyre King, Kajuan Raye, Paul O’Neal, Jordan Edwards, Darius Smith and Jayson Negron.
Although we’ve accomplished a lot, we’re really just getting started. The Leadership Team of MOBB United has spent the last few months refining our goals, strategies and initiatives and we are very excited about our plans for the next year.
We are grateful for your support and look forward to partnering with you to make a difference in the lives of our sons and the lives of Black boys and men everywhere. Thank you for believing. United, we WILL prevail!
With sincere gratitude and hope for the future,