Jordan Davis was killed over loud music. Now his parents tell their story in a gripping new film.

312 minutes.

That's all it took for 45-year-old Michael Dunn to approach black boys listening to loud music at a gas station, shoot 10 bullets into the car of unarmed teens, and leave 17-year-old Jordan Davis dead.

Those 3 12 minutes in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 23, 2012, didn't just end Jordan's life. They sparked a case ("the loud music murder") that transfixed the nation. They added a landmark story to an ongoing movement about gun violence and the deadly impact of racism.


And those 3 12 minutes changed the lives of Jordan's parents, Ron Davis and Lucy McBath, forever.

"312 Minutes: Ten Bullets," the Sundance Award-winning documentary premiering Monday, Nov. 23 on HBO (three years to the day after Jordan's murder), is an intimate look inside the courtroom of the riveting and at times unbelievable trial as well as an up-close and personal look at Jordan's short life.

I had the honor of speaking individually with each of Jordan's parents in advance of the HBO premiere.

I've shared my dialogue with them below, edited for brevity and clarity. At the end of the interview, Lucy gives a chilling reason why you — and everyone — should tune in and watch the film.

EWS: Why was it important for you to share your story, Jordan's story, with the world? Why did you want this film made?

Lucy: Well, because we had paid heed to previous cases, specifically Travyon [Martin]'s case. We watched how Trayvon had been vilified and demonized as a young man of color who was up to no good, even though he wasn't doing anything other than just existing. And so we decided very early on that our truth needed to be told. And it needed to be told by us, his parents. That we didn't need anybody to speak for us. We would tell our story, it would be honest, and it would be raw.

We also wanted to prick the [consciousness] of those that are watching the film. We wanted to open conversations in people's homes and in churches and in businesses and academia about implicit bias, Dunn's racism, and gun violence. We knew that the only way that we could really elevate what we were trying to do is to expose ourselves as a means to motivate people to create some kind of change.

Jordan Davis. Photo by Cady & Cady Studios, courtesy of HBO.

EWS: So how did you know the time was right?

Ron: Very early on, people started approaching us about doing a film, and nothing felt right. But then my lawyer received a letter from Minette Nelson, the woman in charge of The Filmmaker Fund in San Francisco. In the letter, she told me how her son had a friend that was 16 years old who had been killed, and his name was also Jordan. An article about our Jordan in Rolling Stone touched him so much that he brought it to her and she read it and cried and said "Look, I'm going to try to reach out."

When I read the letter, it was so heartfelt. It felt like this person got it. I picked up the phone and called her and we had a 30 minute cry-all conversation, both of us crying and I said, “You get it."

"We decided very early on that our truth needed to be told. And it needed to be told by us, his parents. That we didn't need anybody to speak for us. We would tell our story, it would be honest, and it would be raw."
— Lucy McBath

EWS: How does it feel to go through such personal, emotional moments on film? Did you forget the camera was there or was it always on your mind?

Ron: Most of the time, we forgot the camera was there. You see my emotion at the table when I start taking about Jordan in the beginning of the film and just start crying. I forgot the camera was there then. I was just being emotional. Whether I was talking or swimming or crying, I was just living my life.

Ron Davis grieving and remembering his son at the cemetery. Photo courtesy of HBO.

EWS: There were so many moments like that one, that showed what it was like as a parent who has lost a child. Have you heard from other parents about that?

Ron: Yes. Not just other grieving parents, but also other parents who have experienced something similar. For example, we do work with the family of Oscar Grant [who was killed by a police officer in California and whose story is told in the film "Fruitvale Station"], his Uncle Bobby, his mother.

When Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson, I happened to be speaking at the United Nations conference in Geneva and I was the first person to talk to the UN about it as an example of racial discrimination in the United States.

Then I went to Ferguson and I welcomed Michael Brown's father into a club that no one wants to be a member of, just like Trayvon Martin's father had welcomed me into that club right after Jordan's death.

I also told him to find your voice. When these things happen, it's hard to find your voice. That's why you hear so many representatives — like the Al Sharptons and the Jesse Jacksons — because as a parent you're so devastated, it's hard to find your voice. But for me, I knew that no one was going to tell the story of Jordan right but his parents, because no one knows my son better than us. So I didn't want anyone to speak for us.

EWS: One of the things that struck me about this case is that it got at the heart of so many issues — racism, gun violence, "stand your ground" — has the film been able to spark meaningful conversations around those issues?

Lucy: At a recent film festival, I had grown men coming up to me and crying, crying. Three of them. Two were young white males, millennials, and one was an older black male, maybe in his 40s. All of them bawling.

The older black gentleman said, "I know that this has existed, I know I've experienced it. But I have been remiss in not doing anything about it. And I'm a teacher. And I'm going to go back and have these discussions in my classroom. It awakened a sense of activism in me."

"When you're 17 and you see another 17-year-old get killed, guess what you feel? You feel like it could be you any day, any time. And I hate that. I hate that they have to feel their mortality."
— Ron Davis

One of the young white men was sobbing and saying: “I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that my people have done this to you." But beyond saying "we're sorry for your loss," people are saying something's got to change and I've got to be a part of the change. And that's what we need people to do. It's like a spiritual awakening in a sense because we're dealing with a heart issue, a moral issue.

People have the propensity to not be concerned about what is not their reality. But when you expose the reality to people, when you show them the truth, anybody that has a sense of moral fiber can't go away from it not being affected.

Lucy McBath testifying before Congress against "stand your ground" laws. Photo courtesy of HBO.

EWS: During one of your prayers in the film, you say “I'm still human because I doubt." What about now? Do you still doubt? Or do you have hope?

Lucy: Well, I have to have hope. You have to have hope to do this kind of justice work. It's a very heavy mantle. Anytime you're doing it, you have to hope that change is gonna come. Ron and I have T-shirts that say "Hope Dealers" because that's what we want to offer the nation and communities that are disproportionately affected by the violence: a sense of hope.

We want them to know that there is an awakening happening now. You've got the Black Lives Matter folks that are mobilizing, you've got gun violence prevention advocacy, you've got mothers groups, grassroots groups popping up all over the country. People are definitely paying attention to what is happening, and that has to instill in you a sense of hope.

People do have to understand that this is going to be a long, long, long fight and battle. When you talk about how long it's taken to build this culture of fear and implicit bias and racism and policing — these structures have been building for years, and you don't tear them down overnight.

Anytime you change a culture — like with LGBT equality, like with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, like with the tobacco industry — it begins long before you see the victories in the newspaper or on TV. But yeah, there's hope because it — protecting the sanctity of life as God intended for us — is the moral, right thing to do.

EWS: What message does Michael Dunn's guilty verdict send to America?

Lucy: I don't think the guilty verdict was enough. It offers some semblance of hope, but it's not enough because we're one of the only cases that did see justice. There are far more cases where they did not receive justice, there's no indictment, there's no conviction than there are cases like ours. So there's a lot more work that needs to be done.

Police interviewing Michael Dunn after Jordan's killing. Photo by Ana Hop, courtesy of HBO.

EWS: And to you, Ron? What did the verdict symbolize to you?

Ron: It said that this black life matters. Also, the state of Florida said that Michael Dunn was not right in coming into Jacksonville and killing one of its citizens. I wanted that validation from the state of Florida to say that Jordan's life matters and that Michael Dunn had no right to kill him.

EWS: Aside from the obvious trauma of losing your son, how have you changed over these past three years? Do you see the world any differently?

Lucy: Like anyone else, when you're working day to day and you're trying to raise children and you're trying to, you know, keep a roof over your head — trying to do all the things that you normally have to do just to exist — you hear the news, hear things that are happening in the country, and in some way you think: “Well, that's not going to happen to me. That's really not going to affect me." And you kind of go on about your own reality and live your life kind of in a bubble.

I thought that this country was more “post-racial" than it actually is. Because to tell you the truth, we lived in an upscale neighborhood, and Jordan had access to good schooling. His father and I did well financially and have always been able to provide. We never struggled. So we were living in our own little reality. I did not really understand the depth of racism in this country until these cases like Trayvon and Jordan. I certainly didn't understand how systemic it is.

"People have the propensity to not be concerned about what is not their reality. But when you expose the reality to people, when you show them the truth, anybody that has a sense of moral fiber can't go away from it not being affected."
— Lucy McBath

I'm shocked because of my experience living in my father's house, entrenched in the civil rights movement, and being hauled around in the car with him as children as he was speaking around the country. I have pictures of my father with Lyndon Baines Johnson as he signed the Civil Rights Act and Eleanor Roosevelt and Roy Wilkins and all the work that he did. And so I can't believe that I'm still fighting the same fight that Daddy fought 50 years later.

EWS: What response do get from young people when they see this film?

Ron: They come up to me and most of them say, “I hope my parents are going to be this strong for me if something ever happens to me." They feel their mortality. When you're 17 and you see another 17-year-old get killed, guess what you feel? You feel like it could be you any day, any time. And I hate that. I hate that they have to feel their mortality. They're supposed to be able to love and embrace life and live like they're gonna live another 80 years, you know?

Young protesters outside the courthouse during Michael Dunn's trial. Photo courtesy of HBO.

EWS: One of the most beautiful and unforgettable moments in the film is when you are watching footage of your son and bobbing your head along with him. What was going through your head in that moment?

Ron: I was remembering how Jordan use to hate riding in my car because I don't have an MP3 receiver, so he used to listen to my Motown records. He knew all the Motown songs.

One of his favorite groups was The Brothers Johnson "Strawberry Letter 23." He liked that bass. So I was thinking about that as I saw him dancing and listening to his music, and I said to myself: “I wish I had more days of listening to his music with him. I wish I had more days of bobbing my head to his music, even though I'm not into hip-hop. I would have loved to just one more time bob my head to his music while he was listening."

And so I felt that kinship with him, and it made me smile. And cry.

Ron Davis and Lucia McBath. Photo courtesy of HBO.

EWS: What do you want this film to do?

Ron: It's gonna reconnect the public with the families and victims. I remember thinking in the Trayvon Martin case, the jury was disconnected from him. They connected more with George Zimmerman. And this is a way to help people who serve on juries, people who don't have exposure to young black kids or to African-Americans period, to see us.

They have to, some way, connect with what we go through and what these kids go through. Looking at this film, they'll connect with us and say, “They look just like us, they have heartaches just like us, they doubt, they hope, and they look for the justice system to prevail just like we do." So I want everyone to take from this film who we are, how much we hurt when we lose a loved one. And our humanity.

EWS: And why should people tune in and watch it?

Lucy: Because their lives may depend upon it.

"312 Minutes" premieres Nov. 23, 2015, on HBO at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It will replay on Nov. 24 at 3:05 a.m. ET/PT and Nov. 28 at 1:45 p.m. ET/PT. It will also be available on HBO Now and HBO Go.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
True

Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


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Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

A professor's message to students has gone viral.

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A college student posted screenshots of a professor's message on Twitter with the comment "someone PLEASE check on my professor." It's simply incredible.

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