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Why the Mothers of the Movement's DNC speech brought us to tears.

Too many mothers have had to bury too many children due to gun violence. These moms are trying to change that.

Why the Mothers of the Movement's DNC speech brought us to tears.

611.

That's how many people have been killed by police in 2016.

300.

That's the number of homicides that occurred in Chicago by Father's Day 2016.


In America, our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children, and friends are dying from gun and police violence at a staggering rate.

During the Democratic National Convention, several mothers whose children have been victims of gun violence made it clear that enough is enough.

The Mothers of the Movement are like most moms: hard-working, caring parents who never dreamed they would lose a child. But their stories are also unique and incredibly important.

The Mothers of the Movement are moms who have lost children to police brutality and gun violence. They have come together to unite against gun violence in the U.S.

Tonight, their emotional stories helped illustrate how far we have still to go in this country.

The Mothers of the Movement led their DNC segment with a tear-jerking speech by Geneva Reed-Veal, Sandra Bland's mother.

She talked about how gun violence and the lack of gun control in the U.S. have torn apart her life and the lives of the other mothers in the group.

"This isn’t about being politically correct. This is about saving our children," Sybrina Fulton said to rousing applause.

Who exactly are the Mothers of the Movement?

Meet Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mom.

Photos by The Young Turks/YouTube (left), Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Jazz in the Gardens (right).

Trayvon Martin, 17, was a high-schooler walking home with a can of tea and a packet of Skittles when George Zimmerman shot him. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in 2013. He auctioned the gun used to kill Martin for $250,000.

During the DNC, Fulton explained why she decided to share her story and join the Mothers of the Movement group.

"I am an unwilling participant in this movement," she said. "I would not have signed up for this, nor any other mother that is standing here today. But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, but also for his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth. I did not want this spotlight, but I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness."

Meet Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis.

Photos by The New York Times/YouTube (left), Paras Griffin/Getty Images for 2016 Essence Festival (right).

Jordan Davis, 17, was a teenager sitting in a car with friends when he was shot by Michael Dunn, who was upset that their music was too loud. Dunn was found guilty of first-degree murder and given a life sentence without parole.

During the DNC, McBath said she doesn't want other parents to live in fear of what happened to her son. "I lived in fear that my son would die like this," she said. "I even warned him that because he was a young black man, he would meet people who didn't value him or his life. That is a conversation that no parent should ever have with their child."

Meet Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland.


Photos by CDF/YouTube (left), Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images (right).

Sandra Bland, 28, was an outspoken activist with a degree in agriculture from Prairie View A&M University. Bland was arrested during what should have been a routine traffic stop. Three days later, she was found hanged to death in her cell at the Waller County Jail.

Bland's death was ruled a suicide, but many have noted the brutal arrest preceding Bland's death by state trooper Brian Encinia and the edited dashcam footage that was released. Encinia has been indicted for perjury, and thus dismissed by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"When a young black life is cut short, it’s not just a loss," Reed-Veal said at the DNC. "It’s a personal loss. It’s a national loss. It’s a loss that diminishes all of us."

Several other Mothers of the Movement did not speak at the DNC, but they stood on stage to support the three who did.

Meet Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontré Hamilton.

Photos by Mashable/YouTube (left), Mark Makela/Getty Images (right).

Dontré Hamilton, 31, was a son and uncle. He was unarmed and had been treated for paranoid schizophrenia. Officer Christopher Manney shot Hamilton multiple times. Manney was never charged and was eventually fired from the Milwaukee Police Department.

Meet Gwen Carr, Eric Garner's mother.

Photos by The Young Turks/YouTube (left), Spencer Platt/Getty Images (right).

Eric, a son and beloved father, was confronted by police for selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island, New York. Several police officers surrounded Garner. Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a banned chokehold to restrain Garner, who yelled "I can't breathe" multiple times in an effort to plea with officers. Unfortunately, it was to no avail, and the chokehold ultimately killed him.

A Richmond County grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo in 2014.

Meet Lezley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown.

Photos by AMTV/YouTube (left), Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images (right).

Michael Brown, 18, had just graduated and had plans to go to college. Officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed Brown several times after, witnesses said, Brown held up his hands in submission. The U.S. Department of Justice cleared him of any wrongdoing and cleared him of violating any of Brown's rights.

Meet Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley, mother of Hadiya Pendleton.


Photos by OutLaw4/YouTube (left) Scott Olson/Getty Images (right).

Hadiya Pendleton, 15, had just performed with her school at events for President Obama's second inauguration when she was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting in Chicago. Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were arrested on several charges, including attempted murder and first-degree murder. They said the bullets were intended for a rival gang, not Pendleton.

Meet Annette Nance-Holt, mother of Blair Holt.

Photos by Joseph Latimore/YouTube (left), Scott Olson/Getty Images (right).

Blair Holt, 16, was killed trying to protect a friend on a Chicago bus. Four other teens were injured in the gang-related shooting. Holt was an honor student and beloved classmate and son. His killer, Michael Pace, was sentenced to 100 years in prison.

Meet Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant.

Photos by The Young Turks/YouTube (left), SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images (right).

Oscar Grant, 22, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. Grant was beloved in his community and was coming home after ringing in the new year with friends when he was killed in 2009. His brutal killing was captured on camera and was portrayed in the award-winning film Fruitvale Station. Mehserle was convicted of second-degree murder but got an early release from prison just a year into his sentence.

These mothers' words were captivating, emotional, and heartbreaking.

They shouldn't have to speak like this, but they did. And they spoke to remind us, through their words, that we have the power to change this. In November, we can use our right to vote to demand action and reject complacency.

"So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten," Reed-Veal, Sandra Bland's mother, said. "Sandy cannot speak, but I am here to speak for her. What a blessing to be here tonight so that Sandy can still speak through her mama. And what a blessing for us that we have the opportunity to cast our vote."

"We're going to keep telling our stories, and we're urging you to say their names," said McBath.

By saying their names, we can honor the voices of those who can no longer speak, just like the Mothers of the Movement. But beyond that, we can also help shape a future that no longer requires this discussion.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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