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.

Most Shared
Gillette

Jim and Carol lived an active, exciting life together as husband and wife. But when Jim was struck by a car while cycling near his home, their life changed dramatically. Jim was left needing round-the-clock care, and Carol, a retired nurse, took on the role of caregiver.

Every day, Carol helps Jim through his physical therapy and personal grooming routines. "If we don't do what we do on a daily basis to help him move forward, he'll become more and more dependent," Carol says. "Some days the challenges are very difficult."

More than 40 million Americans are in Carol's shoes, providing unpaid caregiving to loved ones who are disabled, elderly, or otherwise in need of assistance. With baby boomers getting older and people living longer, many middle-aged people find themselves caring for aging parents or grandparents. Others may have a developmentally delayed adult child at home, or a family member who has become disabled due to an accident or illness. From cooking to cleaning to bathing, caregivers help others do everyday tasks they aren't able to do for themselves.

RELATED: These glimpses into the lives of caregivers prove they're real unsung heroes.

Hygiene and grooming are a big part of a caregiver's job, and anything that makes those tasks easier is a good thing. That's why Gillette's new TREO razor, specifically designed for shaving other people, caught our eye.

Keep Reading Show less
Family
via Ria Tan / Flickr and Kevin Walsh / Flickr

Climate change deniers often mock the claim that gas expelled from cows, either through the mouth or the bottom, is a major cause of global warming.

It was even a point of debate when Republicans were discussing the Green New Deal.

But it's true. According to the United Nations, livestock farming produces about 18% of environmentally damaging gases — and about a quarter of that chunk comes from cow emissions.

When cows digest food in their intestines it ferments, which causes them to expel methane. When methane is released into the atmosphere without being burned off, it absorbs the sun's heat, warming the atmosphere.

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Facebook / RoseMary Klontz

The couple that dresses together stays together, or at least in the case of these two lovebirds.

Francis and RoseMary Klontz, who will celebrate their 68thwedding anniversary next month, have been coordinating their outfits since they first started dating in high school.

"My mother got us matching shirts when we were in high school – well, I picked them out — and we've been matching ever since," Rosemary told CBS Sacramento.

The Plumas Lake, Calif. couple, who've served together in ministry at churches throughout the West for decades, first met in middle school.

Keep Reading Show less
Family

Today, I'm a 35-year-old man with a flame shaved into my beard. If the '80s movies I love so much are any indication, this is a sure sign I'm going through some kind of existential crisis. Next week, when the semester starts and I begin teaching again, it will not be strange if my colleagues start to worry about me just a little. A sports car or a neck-jerking pivot to physical fitness — that's an understandable response to the realization that life is fleeting. But a large meticulous flame carved out of facial hair? What does one do with that?

At this moment, though, I'm showing my face proudly to a woman wearing a swimsuit with a taco cat on it. We have only recently met, but she's telling me that she's so into my "fade" that she wants to kiss it. Then she does, blowing a raspberry into my cheek so hard that her hat falls off. Neither of us can stop laughing.

"Live Mas!" she yells with the excitement of someone who's never had trouble fully seizing the moment.

"Live Mas!" I shout back without any irony. There is no irony here in Palm Springs, where, for four days only, hundreds of people celebrate their love for Taco Bell.

Here, there's only swimming and hot sauce-themed leisure wear, and the warm pleasant feeling that comes from eating too much and knowing that you're with your own people. Even if the only thing that connects you is a love for a fast food giant that feeds you when you're hammered and shameless at 2 a.m.

We drank the Baja Blast! My Taco Bell fade and my friend's specialty manicure!Mark Shrayber

What does it mean to Live Mas? This is a question I am forced to ask myself over and over during my 24-hour stay at "The Bell," where I have stowed away as a friend's plus-one. We are, of course, both politely pretending that I'm a full-on guest with all the perks that entails, but we also both know that I wouldn't be here eating unlimited quesadillas poolside without her.

So maybe that's the first thing Live Mas means: To build strong lifelong connections which you can, with some luck, exploit to your benefit. :) :) :)

But this is too cynical an interpretation, because everyone here is so happy. Happy that they've gotten a reservation; happy that they can cool off in a room themed after an iconic Mountain Dew Drink, and happy that they can share their own personal story of what Taco Bell means to them. (Though there's no formal essay contest — I've checked.)

Me: This room won't be that cool. Also me: OH MY GOD, THIS IS THE COOLEST ROOM I'VE EVER BEEN IN!!!Mark Shrayber

Snatches of this story float around the "Fire" pool, where all the entertainment is concentrated: One couple canceled their trip to Prague because "Prague will always be there" — a brave stance considering climate change; another met last year on Tinder after the girlfriend's Taco Bell senior photos went viral; at the opening ceremony on Thursday, where sauce packets were cut instead of a ribbon, a city official brought others to tears with both her Taco Bell fashion and a memory of how her parents would feed an entire family with 19-cent-tacos from the first-ever Taco Bell in Downey, California.

Oh, I forgot one: The guy who skipped out on Prague? He got a giant bell shaved into the side of his head, so he might have to miss out on a black-tie event happening later this week. But it's all good. Bring on the nacho fries.

I make fast friends with four women who are here for a bachelorette party, the bride overwhelmed with good vibes and prosecco. This year, for her 30th, she rented a party bus. Inside? $100 worth of Taco Bell that her fiancee was worried might not be consumed.

"But little did he know," she shouts in the hot tub where we're "cooling off" after a long day of 108-degree sunning, "we ate it all!"

A bachelorette party and a birthday! We're really living it up (but also staying hydrated.)Mark Shrayber

Others whoop it up at the twist, but we all get it. Though there's no essay contest, I don't mind telling you that when my first boyfriend dumped me 14 years ago, I stuffed my face with chalupas. When I lost a job I really loved four years ago, I once ordered so much Taco Bell that the delivery app of my choice informed me I'd exceeded the maximum number of items they could comfortably fill in one order. We get it — though none of us can truly explain it.

There are, if you look at the The Bell from a literary perspective, many other writers who deserve this experience more than me. They could talk about the blue of the pool. Or the insouciance of youth. Draw parallels between marketing stunts such as this and the end-stage capitalism. Or envision a "Demolition Man" future where Taco Bell is fine dining and none of us know how to use the three shells in the bathroom to get ourselves clean.

And I wish these writers could be here to paint you these landscapes, but what you've got is me, a literal Taco Bell super-fan, and what I'm doing is eating and getting sunburned and taking a synchronized swimming class with the Aqualillies, who refer to themselves as "the world's most glamorous water ballet entertainment," but have very little idea of what to do with 10 eager recruits who can't stay afloat or on beat.


G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S!!Photo courtesy of Taco Bell.

"It's okay," one of the instructors comforts me just before the Tacolilies (the name of our "team") are invited to perform our watery version of "Senorita" — which was supposed to be two minutes long, then 1:15, and has now been judiciously cut down, due to talent, to about 45 seconds — in the bigger pool. "We regularly teach five-year-olds. And you're doing much better."

Usually, I would take offense at such blatant reads, but today I'm unbothered. I'll continue to be so right until I get home and discover that I've left all my electronics on United Flight 5223 (if anyone wants to get them back to me). And even then, I rage at myself for all of five seconds before checking that I've still got what's important: A certificate that says I did not drown while doing water ballet.

It's still there. As is my phone, which is blowing up with messages from people who took pictures of me in what Taco Bell calls its "power suit," and which is best described as "cult outfit, but kinda make it fashion." I bought my husband one, too, and I look forward to the argument we're going to have about holiday cards later.

This is "Live Mas."

I've never been so happy to match with someone else in my life. MaMark Shrayber

Or maybe it's the moment another stranger tells me that we'll be friends forever. Such friendships are forged quickly when you've got less than 24 hours to make lifelong connections and I'm pleased to get the full experience.

"We may never meet again," he says while we're swimming, "but we'll always have this time together."

Then we establish that he lives just across the park from me in San Francisco.

"Aw, man," he says, floating away to take pictures of the people he came with, "I've got lots of close friends I never see because they live across that damn park."

But the sentiment holds.

We Live Mas it on.

Culture