Quarterly or monthly local chapter meetings / recruitment outings; MOBB United connections; MOBB United Business Directory; special interest groups (e.g., special needs); driven by Chapter Development and Health and Wellness committees with support from Education and Engagement and Eco Dev committees for the directories; quarterly or monthly local chapter meetings/recruitment outings.
I sat in a Black SUV along with four others I had never met before. We got to know each other on the ride over to the peace walk/peace talk, and by the time we were there, we had formed our pack. It was hard to believe I had just landed in Miami, Florida, just 3 hours earlier. Though the excitement in the air was intoxicating, my mind was elsewhere as I thought about missing our second MOBB United National Call of the year. The energy of the crowd, those who knew and loved Trayvon Martin and those who came to know of him after his death, was ripe with anticipation. I tried to share what I felt, but I’m not sure it could truly be captured adequately. Today was the day we would celebrate Trayvon!
Wearing t-shirts bearing Trayvon’s face, we began to move up the street with his mom, Sybrina Fulton, with Tracey Martin leading the way. “No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!” I marched along with the young lady with whom I had ridden to the walk. We’d never met before today, but we were connected in our mission for that day. We had both been impacted by the death of Trayvon. Trayvon would have been 23 yrs old on February 5th, just 2 years older than my son, had he lived.
A sea of red shirts pushed through the streets of Miami asking for change, not just in that community, but in the country. The tone turned from somber to celebratory as we all filed into the neighborhood park. Esteemed sororities and fraternities called out to each other while community leaders and youth organizations prepared to pay their respects and share a message of hope for the future. From local officials to interns, school drama clubs and entertainment celebrities, everyone had a positive sentiment. Even the 5th grader who brought everyone to tears when he delivered a poem about losing and missing his best friend to gun violence prayed for a better tomorrow.
Music piped through the amphitheater, driving police and citizens to move in harmony. And while everyone was grooving to the sounds, a familiar voice came through the speakers, filing our ears and driving everyone into a frenzy. Jay-Z surprised everyone by making an appearance! Along with Trayvon’s parents, he shared that the world would get a glimpse into Trayvon’s life with the upcoming Rest in Power documentary. Sybrina Fulton closed out the beautiful day sending a message to everyone that she was here to not only commemorate Trayvon’s life, but to fight for future children. Her words rang heavily in my ears as we left the park that day.
The next day, MOBB United Founder, Depelsha McGruder, and I, gathered for an evening of remembrance. As we entered the expansive hall, pictures of Trayvon were everywhere. Images of every kind greeted us: an image of Trayvon made up of dozens of pictures of men and women donning hoodies like he did, and another image of Trayvon wearing a crown—beautiful reminders of the promise of life that is now gone. Dinner was accompanied by a video montage of Trayvon, stories from loved ones, and promises from local officials who continue to seek change for their communities.
Throughout the evening, we met other moms who had lost their sons, like Sybrina. Their stories we had only heard in the news, and now we were face to face with the women that loved them most, their moms. As Depelsha and I retired for the night, the gravity of our experience was overwhelming. With unspoken words, it was understood that our commitment to MOBB United was forever.
Please share some of the experience with us through these videos (Video 1 and Video 2) and photos below.
morning after Alton Sterling was killed, I went to wake my son for
work and found him sitting up in bed. His first words to me was "Mom did
you see how they just killed that man" I was too stunned to respond.
The very next morning we found out that Philando Castile was killed. No
words needed to be said. The words were on my son's face. He was scared,
and so was I. But as his mother, my only thought was that I MUST
PROTECT HIM. As I type this, with tears streaming down my face at the
memory, my determination is just as strong. I cannot sleep soundly until
I know that my son, Crys’ son, Vivian's son, Tasha's son, Depelsha's
sons, ALL OF OUR SONS are safe from the ones sworn to protect them.”
Where does she get the energy?! Vanessa McCullers has been going all out for MOBB United since July 2016, and she seems to be as fully charged as the Energizer Bunny. We know her passion is fueled by her love for her SONshine, Carlos. If you’re wondering what Vanessa does for MOBB United, the answer is well...everything!!!
Vanessa initially began as Co-Chair of the Communications Committee and shortly thereafter, became Chair. She now oversees all of Moms of Black Boys United’s (the 501c3 organization) activities, including Communications, Education and Engagement, Self Care, and the MOBB United Connections Program.
This means she manages a team of leaders and volunteers who handle everything from branding, marketing and PR, content development across platforms, social media strategy and execution, media outreach and op-eds, research studies, education and wellness programs, partnerships, and events.
Vanessa was instrumental in planning the first MOBB United Leadership Retreat in Bethany, PA, and in establishing our presence at the world renowned Essence Festival in New Orleans last year. She’s also brokered significant partnerships, including a partnership with Dr. Luke Wood of San Diego State University, on the “Black Minds Matter” virtual course. In addition, she has personally provided ongoing resources and support to moms who have lost sons to police violence.
Vanessa has a heart of gold and a battery that never seems to run out. Her mind and heart are constantly churning out new ideas of ways to build and grow the organization’s presence and impact. We honestly don’t know what we’d do without her, and we are so grateful for all of her contributions. Thanks, Vanessa!!!
Ahhh, the holidays are here! For many of us, this is a time of joyful anticipation, warm fuzzy feelings, and memories of blissful family gatherings that may, or may not, include a heated discussion about who makes the best potato salad. All in all, the expectation is that the month of December should be filled with celebrations, good food, and time spent with our loved ones. For those who must endure this time of year without their loved ones, it becomes much more difficult to enjoy. People who have lost a family member or friend feel the empty space that is left and know it can never be filled by any amount of hot chocolate with marshmallows. The holidays can be equally as depressing as they are joyful, depending on your personal situation.
Imagine the pain of the holidays without a loved one, compounded by the pain of feeling robbed, victimized, and devalued by the very society you live in, work for, and to which you strive daily to contribute successfully. Every year, there are increasingly more moms of Black boys and men who will suffer through their holidays with an emptiness that only they can truly understand that of having lost a child to senseless police brutality. This is a pain compounded even further when law enforcement has gone undisciplined and is never brought to justice.
This holiday season, we acknowledge those for whom our organizations Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. and MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) were founded: the moms, wives, sisters and caretakers whose SONshine has been eclipsed forever, who have lost someone and are trying to find their new normal in this dark new place.
MOBB United was formed based on the intrinsic connection that we all have with each other, as we raise Black sons and love the Black men in our lives. We are collectively hurt and burdened by the egregious injustices so easily cast upon hundreds of victims in our communities each year. We are the village that it takes to raise our families and support each other through the process. We are the backbone of society who painstakingly, and without hesitation, help, heal, and endure untold levels of despair and disappointment in order to try and make it all better for our loved ones.
In the spirit of community and support, we will spotlight moms going forward in our newsletter. We will update their current status as information is available and note how we can be of support to them. Most heartbreaking is that with so many victims, including those widely publicized like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, et. al, we hardly have space to cover them all. There are many who don’t get the national media coverage that some of those mentioned have received. There are grieving moms everywhere that you may or may not have been following in the news. This month, we have chosen to spotlight Reshawna Myricks and Shainie Lindsay of Southern California.
Reshawna Myricks lost her 15-year-old son Darius in May 2017. He was a scholar and an athlete—a normal teenager who liked to hang out with his friends and cousins when he wasn’t at football practice or a game. Darius was killed when he and his cousin were riding home on the train. Darius, at only 15, was the oldest of four children. The abrupt and unbearably painful loss is now a reality for all of them, who will grow up with their own perceptions of law enforcement and the issue of simple fairness in our society as a whole. Reshawna continues to battle heavy depression and grief over the loss, compounded by the fact that she has no real answers to the basic who, what, where, and how of the circumstances surrounding this case. She has not been able to stay at the home they all lived in prior to Darius’ death and continues to stay at her mother’s home with her other 3 children, Derek, 9; Deshaun, 7; and Deijanae, who is only 4 years old. As the holidays approach, it is increasingly hard for her to get into the spirit and create the festive atmosphere that most of us moms are buzzing around creating for our families right now. She welcomes and asks for our prayers and support while she tries to muster up the strength needed to get through the next few days with so much pain weighing on all of them. What gives Reshawna hope and purpose is plans to establish a scholarship fund for young athletes through MOBB United. She is also committed to being a full participating member of our organization and continues to do what she can to contribute. Most recently, she participated in the pink postcard campaign in Los Angeles.
For the second year, Shainie Lindsay is facing Christmas as a widowed, single mom. Last year this time, she was days away from giving birth to her baby boy and still reeling from the tragedy of losing her partner in life. The depth of her sorrow was buried in the routine of being a mom while preparing for new responsibilities. Friends and family were there to help get her through those first few months: her partner’s birthday, the holidays, and then the birth of Eli. But Shainie knew then that Christmas would never be the same.
Her life took a significant shift, as Shainie struggled to make the adjustments needed to provide for her children. That included cutting her hours at work so she could be with the kids to help with homework after school, the way their daddy used to help. It also meant finding odd jobs here and there to make sup for the financial losses, even as she was exhausted from the trials of being a single parent to 6 children.
This holiday season has presented its own set of readjustments as the family recently moved away from the home that held the memories of their father’s death. With all that she’s had to endure, Moms of Black Boys United provided some Christmas cheer early one morning this December. We surprised Shainie with ornaments for her kids to decorate and a gift of a spa day. But the surprises didn’t stop there. Recently, Shainie and her family were awarded a holiday brunch for the family with Ms. Vivica Fox along with $1000 holiday spending cash when a fellow MOBB submitted her story in a Christmas cheer giveaway.
Happy holidays to all of our Moms of Black Boys United sisters. We are here for all of you!
Moms of Black Boys United - Ensuring that our SUNs Survive and Thrive
M.O.B.B. United aims to provide information and support for moms of Black sons while promoting positive images of Black boys and men. Our goal is to influence policy impacting how Black boys and men are treated by law enforcement and society.