As 2020 brings about social change and new normals, a group of local moms who were anxious to get involved came together Saturday in Allen to teach their young children to use their own voices.
McKinney mother Jazmine Colson said she’d been seeing Black Lives Matter protests on social media and wanted to be part of the movement, but her lifestyle was making it difficult to join the marches.
“I am stuck with my child during the day, and a lot of protests were during the day,” Colson said. “I posted on a moms group and asked if anybody had known of anything like the idea that I had, which was to go with my kid to a protest, but I know that the environment isn't always 100 percent safe.”
So she had the idea for a Mommy & Me BLM movement and posted it on the moms Facebook group. Colson was encouraged by the feedback she received from other moms, so the idea for an educational protest event was born.
“It's an outlet for moms and their children to come together and have the environment for them to understand what's going on in their world as far as the pandemic and now a movement across the nation that is very large - things they have to deal with,” Colson said. “It's a great opportunity for it to be a very good learning moment for the development of children.
“Hopefully these put sparks in these babies’ hearts and in their brains for them to want to make a difference, and that's what the real movement is, these kids are the future. You instill in them positivity and humanity. Treat everyone with the same respect, etc. That is what will make great leaders one day.”
During Saturday’s Mommy & Me protest, Colson and other volunteers handed out bags of sidewalk chalk to children with the names of black children who have been unjustly killed. The bags bore names such as Jordan Edwards, Kiwane Carrington and Tyre King - black teens who were shot and killed by police officers. Each attendee wrote a name and drew pictures and tributes in chalk on the sidewalk of Allen City Hall. Parents took the time to look up the names so they could discuss the child they honored.
Zer Cox and her daughter Hazel, 10, wrote Trayvon Martin’s name on the sidewalk. Martin, 17, was fatally shot by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman in Miami Gardens, Florida. Zimmerman, 28, was acquitted for murder on a self-defense claim. Cox said that growing up in a white family, she didn’t learn about many of the issues that have become part of the national conversation since Minnesota man George Floyd was killed while in police custody.
“We’re doing this book, ‘Antiracist,’ at home to help my kids learn about the experience of others in our community because I want my kids to learn about structural racism and things that aren’t really talked about,” Cox said.
Both her children learned of Floyd’s killing online and began asking questions, so Cox explained the circumstances and found other ways to educate them. She said she didn’t have to think twice about getting involved in the Mommy & Me movement.
“It's a band of mothers teaching their children and fighting with the Black Lives Matter movement and that our kids are the future, and that one day they will have to be released into society and understand the politics that are involved in their daily lives - like voting and rights,” Colson said. “We need to have the community understand what's going on in the Black Lives Matter movement and how it's impacted black lives in the criminal justice system.”
In a mini “mock” protest, the moms and children (and a few dads) circled the half block of City Hall and the Allen Police Department.
Colson brought a community outreach element to the movement by bringing on mothers with various backgrounds and expertise in areas like marketing, politics and philanthropy.
Ultimately, the mothers want their children to learn how similar movements throughout history have brought about civil change.
“For a long time, kids have to understand that men at first had all the rights, and then we had women's suffrage - there've been different movements to get where we are in society, and the government has a role in that, voting has a role in that. So if you're going to teach children the basics of government such as the amendments and the three branches of government, then you might as well teach them why they have that right to vote, and why it's important for future generations to do so.”