One of Cherrie Vaughn’s three sons asked his elementary school teacher why police keep killing Black people… and why Black people were enslaved.
Not knowing what to say, his teacher called Vaughn. Vaughn found herself in the position of advocate, but she couldn’t help but wonder why the teacher didn’t have this information.
“At that moment it was just like, time out, woah, something’s not right,” Vaughn said.
That was a year and half ago in Seattle, before the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, but after the deaths of Travyon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and other Black teenagers killed by police — all of them leaving behind mothers to grieve over the loss, and ask their creators the same question Vaughn’s son asked his teacher.
Vaughn joined other Louisville mothers Thursday night for a march through downtown Louisville to Jefferson Square Park, where protesters have demonstrated for 57 days. Every day they have asked for the same thing: justice for Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in her home during a raid in March.
The Facebook page for the “Mamas’ March” said Thursday night’s demonstration was for every mother who heard George Floyd’s cries, for every mother who has wept over the body of their child, for every mother who wants a better world for their children and, “for every child we have lost.”
The mothers gathered under the expressway at Brook St. and Muhammad Ali Blvd., then marched west toward Jefferson Square Park, across from Metro Hall where the mayor’s office is. The summer rain had been falling softly all day, but as the mamas marched toward the square the rain fell in fat drops, soaking everyone on the route.
Ebony Jones has two kids in college, and she didn’t just show up for the mamas’ march. She’s been out there since day 1, she said. When she thinks about the role that mothers play in this moment, she can’t help but think about mothers whose children lost their lives before their time.
She recites the names: “Travyon Martin — his mom — Sandra Bland — her mom — George Floyd — his mom — David McAtee — his mom — Tyler Gerth — his mom.”
“We’re moms. We’re moms,” Jones said. “I can’t speak for a male, but as a mom we would probably grieve the hardest about our child that we gave birth to, whose life was just, you know, taken.”
It wasn’t just moms at the march; plenty of kids showed up too, some dragging their mothers in tow. Tielyn Redd, 26, encouraged her mother to come out and march with her. Redd said getting justice will take more than a mothers march, but they came out to do their part.
“I’m counting on us as Black people getting ourselves together, and we are going to come out on top,” Redd said.
Since that conversation with her son’s teacher, Cherrie Vaughn relocated from Seattle to Louisville, and has taken it upon herself to educate her three children ages 5, 10 and 11. She’s taking them to marches, having difficult conversations and reading and watching videos about black history.
“As moms, our job is to be a nurturer, our job is to make sure our kids are provided for,” Vaughn said. “There’s just something special about a mother’s love.”