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News Article

Hi everyone, I just wanted you all to see this newspaper article that came out today. About a year ago I was asked if I would like Timmy's story to be included into a book that was written by an organization called Mothers In Charge. Well it is actually being published this month! They did an unveiling yesterday but I could not attend but a reporter had called me from the Phila. Enquirer and here is a copy of it. Timmy is also going to be included in another article from a local newspaper in the next week or two so I would love to share that with you all also when it comes out. Doing this makes me feel like I'm keeping his memory alive but reading what I said (beliee it or not it was my mother's day story) almost made me break down.

Posted on Fri, May. 8, 2009

Annette John-Hall: "Faces of Courage" a book about love's mission
By Annette John-Hall

Inquirer Columnist

It's a coffee-table book released just in time for Mother's Day - page after page of striking portraits of mothers who share cherished memories of their children.

Milestones like birthdays and proms, job promotions, the birth of their own children.

A mother's love flowing throughout, from beginning to end.

But Faces of Courage isn't the kind of book that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

A book about loss never will.

Because what's common in all these mothers' stories is the murder of their children.

Still, the portraits in photos and words, as wrenching as they are, testify to the remarkable strength of mothers who have endured life's most tragic circumstance and turned their love and suffering into a mission.

Dorothy Johnson-Speight calls it "peace-nurturing."

Johnson-Speight, the driving force behind Mothers in Charge, an antiviolence advocacy group she founded six years ago after the death of her own son, is featured, along with 25 other mothers. All proceeds from the book go to fund the programs of Mothers in Charge, whose membership, sadly, continues to grow.

"We want to be out of business. We want to have another mission, like fighting for education," says Johnson-Speight. "But perhaps the lives we save will be of the children not born yet. We're planting seeds."

Yes, the book is hard to read. Painful. And at a time when mom celebration and indulgence kicks into overdrive, you might even think it's a downer.

But as I wrote Sharon Kelly's account of her son's murder for the book, I couldn't help but feel humbled, inspired by these women pushing on with purpose.

Kelly formed a Mothers in Charge chapter in Atlantic County, where she lives, after her son Jermaine, 31, was gunned down in Germantown in 2003.

A face of courage in a book that breaks through indifference, reminding all of us of the fragility of life, the senselessness of violence, and the frightening reality that it doesn't matter who you are, where you live, or what you've done - anybody can be a victim.

White, black, Latino. Toddlers and prom queens. College graduates and, yes, kids who made bad decisions.

Pat Griffin, a 66-year-old mental-health therapist, faithfully mentors juvenile inmates twice a week as part of a Mothers in Charge program. It's possible that one of them might even know something about the murder of her youngest son, Darien, whose killer may still be walking the streets.

But that doesn't stop her from going.

"They're all my children," Griffin insists. "I listen to them. . . . They tell me some very private stuff."

Johnson-Speight says the book, which can be purchased at www.mothersincharge.org, serves as an icebreaker of sorts for the incarcerated offenders they see.

"The last time we went, we showed them the book, page by page. They told us they were sorry for our losses and appreciated that we cared about them.

"We go there," Johnson-Speight says, "so their mothers won't have to be part of this organization."

Johnson-Speight's resolve and endurance rise from the death of her only son, Khaaliq Johnson, 24, a University of Maryland-Eastern Shore grad who was due to start a master's program at the University of Delaware but was gunned down over a parking space in 2001.

"Khaaliq is the wind beneath my wings," Johnson-Speight says. "He's what keeps me going." Just as, no doubt, she did for him.

Looking back, Bette Ann Clark doesn't know where she'd be without Mothers in Charge, especially during those first raw months after her 15-year-old son, Timothy, was murdered a block from their Tacony home in 2007.

Now she willingly shares her story whenever anyone asks. One part, in particular, stands out as we mothers get ready to receive our annual showering of attention.

"I remember a Mother's Day when Timmy was about 8," Clark says. "He asked me for $2, said he wanted to go to the Dollar Store. . . . But he comes home with this single rose with baby's breath in this glass vase with a big red bow and said, 'Happy Mother's Day, Mom.' "

Her voice cracks. "I'll never forget that."


Contact Annette John-Hall at 215-854-4986 or ajohnhall@phillynews.com.

Re: News Article


Re: News Article


Re: News Article

Great article and it is so good that Timmy got to be a part of the book. Way to go oh humble one!!!!I can't wait to read the book and as you know have already ordered one....And don't even acuse me of anything for answering this post and you know what I mean too SACL!!!