The Nashville-based Moms Over Murder support action group met on the Murfreesboro Civic Plaza last Thursday to give mothers who’ve lost loved ones a platform to speak on their grief and raise awareness for the number of lives lost too soon to violence.
Several of the mothers who courageously shared their stories of loss and struggles with grieving expressed the comfort and support they have been able to find in the company of other mothers who’ve had to endure similar situations.
Stacey Hall, who lost her son D’Anthony due to gang-related shooting in December of 2014, introduced each of the women involved with the non-profit group and welcomed any other mothers in the audience to speak as well.
“It’s hard. If you’re having to deal with someone that lost a child, thank you for dealing with them,” said Hall. “I know we have our days where we’re good and we’re happy, and we have our days we miss our child, and we just want our child back.”
Hall joined the group that has provided her and other moms with a number of coping mechanisms to deal with their grief in 2015. She, like several other moms who spoke, touched on the issues that exist within the criminal justice system she’s faced as well.
MOMs was founded in 2008 by the non-profit’s CEO Clemmie Greenlee just five years after the murder of her son Rodriguez.
Hall said the group started with meetings in the living room of Greenlee’s home and now has grown to include more and more mothers who have been subjected to the same tragic circumstances.
Many of the group’s supporters were seen wearing tee shirts donning the names and faces of the deceased as well as the ring-shaped logo for Rodney’s Village, an organization named after Rafiah Muhammad McCormick’s son Rodney Armstrong, who was gunned down in his backyard at pool party in Murfreesboro last summer.
“Some of us have seen justice be served. Some of us are still looking for those individuals. Some of us have gone through the system and have not walked away with the end we desire, but what is the end that we can get?” said McCormick. “I mean our child is gone. Our child is not coming back.”
In her eyes, the discussion on gun violence should revolve around whether it’s a “gun issue or a people issue” because the back and forth debate will only result in more untimely deaths. She hopes to see more emphasis on accountability for violent weapon use in an open-carry state.
McCormick considers herself to be “blessed” that her son’s killer took the initiative to turn himself into the authorities. She and her family have made it past the plea stage and have now reached the sentencing phase of her son’s case.
Sonya Anthony-McGhee, a mother and grandmother, said it was her first time taking the mic to tell the story of how she lost her son Courtney last October and the everlasting impact it has had on her life each day since.
She learned that her son had been shot by his child’s mother via Facebook just before planning to head home to Nashville after spending a day visiting family in Memphis with her 8-month-old grandson.
“The post said ‘Damn. She killed Courney Anthony,’” said McGhee, who was in disbelief when her sister delivered the news. “I’m looking at her, we look at each other, and I’m like, ‘This can’t be real. Nobody would . . . nobody would post that.’”
When she made it back to her son’s home, the entire scene was roped off with yellow crime scene tape. He had been shot by his girlfriend Kanesha Preyer during a domestic violence dispute.
“I’m not against guns, but I’m against gun violence,” said McGhee, who reminisces about her son’s daily morning phone calls to check in.
She said it’s a loss that has deeply affected her entire family, but finding the MOMs group has given her the power to serve as a mouthpiece for her son and other mothers who are not yet ready to share their story. She continues to urge them to strive for forgiveness in order to heal.
“Kanesha Preyer, I forgive you for killing my son. I forgive you for hurting our family. I forgive you for all of it,” McGhee said through tears. “I pray that you’ll find forgiveness for yourself.”
More information on MOMs and their mission can be found on the Nashville Peacemakers website at www.nashvillepeacemakers.org.