FLORISSANT, Mo. – Moms from across the country united in north St. Louis County to stand up to violence.
They’re families who have lost their children to homicide and are coming together in a group called Voices of Black Mothers United.
“We also want to be a voice. We want to start bringing about solutions here in St. Louis,” said Sylvia Bennett-Stone. “So this is the start of engagement, a movement, and us getting together and saying we’re going to make a difference.”
She and Johnetta Doss are two mothers whose teenage daughters were murdered.
“My days haven’t really been happy since I lost my daughter,” Doss said. “So to know there is another mother out there—rooting for me, pushing me, speaking life into me. It means a lot.”
They organized a Survivor’s Ball to lift up mothers grieving in ways that few can understand. They’re also working together to find solutions.
“There’s not one answer to this madness. Our youth are killing our youth, so there’s a deterioration of a whole culture and generation that is happening, and it must stop,” Bennett-Stone said.
She founded the organization in Alabama. Doss brought it to St. Louis.
“It feels good to help other people,” Doss said. “Because it takes your mind off what you’re going through. Although it’s there and you’re always going to live through it, at that moment, you don’t have to live through it because there’s someone else who needs your help more than you.”
Families attended the event. Representatives from Missouri’s Attorney General’s Office were there, as well as the president of the Ethical Society of Police.
“This is a celebration of life for just everyone who may have lost a loved one,” said Donny Walters, the president of the Ethical Society of Police. “We had an individual who was tragically killed in Kiener Plaza yesterday at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and now their family is going through a process.”
The people in attendance not only hope to save future children; they also hope to save each other, as they say, many mothers whose children are murdered literally die from grief.