Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a private meeting in Chicago on Monday with several mothers who have lost a child to gun violence. The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Hadiya Pendleton and Jordan Davis were among those present to discuss racial inequality, criminal justice reform and gun control in America. The mothers shared their tragic stories with Clinton and expressed what changes in the country they would like to see made.
Davis' mom, Lucia McBath, told The Huffington Post that she is happy these conversations are happening. McBath's son was gunned down by Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white man, for playing loud music at a Florida gas station. However, the mom and activist said that talking about these issues is only the beginning.
"For far too long these issues were seen as urban problems... this is a national crisis," McBath said. "[Clinton] did a great deal of listening which is extremely important to us and I think on that level, that was the very first time that I had known of involvement in the community from her perspective at that level."
However, McBath said the meeting was a bittersweet moment for her.
"I was sitting next to Cleo Pendleton, who’s Haydia Pendleton’s mother, and I looked her in the eye and I said, ‘you know, I’m so pained that this club of women sitting here, having to talk to Secretary Clinton about the profound loss that we live with every single day of our lives,'" she said.
Last year, Dunn, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Though McBath said her son received justice when Dunn was convicted, she's one of the only mothers who sat with Clinton on Monday to that have that satisfaction.
"I can’t continue to keep looking in the eyes of all the mothers that I meet day after day after day after day and seven years, eight years, no answers on the murders of their children," she told HuffPost. "It’s a bad track record in terms of white on black crime and these specific instances... the perpetrators are walking away free. Our justice system is fractured and we can see it’s not serving the needs of every community."
That broken system is why she continues to fight against gun violence in this country. Davis' high profile homicide thrusted McBath and her family into the national spotlight, so she used her platform to fight for the injustices that led to her son's death.
"No matter how I protected him, in the end it didn’t matter because of the nature of the way he was gunned down -- the reasons why he was gunned down, those reasons still remain in this country," McBath said. "This just fueled me because I feel like if we say nothing, if we do nothing, we’re participating in our own form of racial genocide. National genocide, people dying, there are no safe spaces in this country any more… it doesn’t matter what community you live in, it doesn’t matter what church you go to, it doesn’t matter how highly educated you are, gun violence in this country knows no bounds."
In the past three years since the death of her son, McBath has traveled the country, meeting with politicians and speaking out against gun violence, criticizing the National Rifle Association and testifying against the proposed expansion of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. She also worked with two documentaries. "The Armor of Light," follows McBath and Rev. Rob Schenck as they tackle the sticky relationship between gun control and the Christians who oppose it. "3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets," which airs on Nov. 23, on HBO, reconstructs the night Davis was killed and looks at the racial prejudice behind the tragedy.
We have to be empowered within our own communities across the country to take our power back, to keep our families safe, to protect our communities, to make sure our future generations are able to walk in the street and not worry about being gunned down. Lucia McBath
Still, she said that everyone must vote during local and national elections, and the justice system and legislators have to listen to those who are fighting and not let their words fall on death ears.
"People across the country keep dying so we shall not be silenced," she said. "The thing that we’re looking for is that beyond lifting our voice to you, what is going to get done. From the moment that we leave this room, this conversation, what happens beyond this conversation, that’s what’s important to us."
Also on HuffPost: