Behind Jet Magazine’s Jordan Davis Cover: A Courageous Stand For Justice

I have been a reporter for more years than not and I’ve covered my fair share of death, heartache and controversy. It comes rather easy to me. So it was a no-brainer, really, for me to accept the challenge from my ace, Jet magazine editor-in-chief Mitzi Miller, to pen her magazine’s cover story on Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old African American boy who was shot and killed at a Florida gas station by a man angry that Jordan and his friends were listening to loud music.

I thought writing the piece would be a cakewalk—interview the parents, the attorneys, the witnesses and a few gun control advocates, pore through my notes, write the story and hand it in. But then I talked to Jordan’s parents—his mother, Lucia McBath, and his father, Ron Davis. And things changed. Through their tears, each told me in separate interviews about their boy—how he was a miracle child born of an at-risk pregnancy, and how he was a smart, caring, sociable kid who was always surrounded by good friends and lots of laughter. They told me, too, about how excited he was to start his first job—how his father planned to show him how to shave and tie a tie. And how Ron Davis broke down when, finally, he saw his son on a hospital gurney, his body lifeless.

The love Lucia and Ron have for their child is epic—their loss, equally so. Jordan was their miracle baby. And now, he is gone from here—the victim of a senseless killing by a man who says he shot at least eight bullets from his concealed weapon into a car full of kids because he was scared of them. As a mother, as an African American woman, as a human being, their story thoroughly turned my heart inside out.

That is the power of the story—certainly the power of Jet. The magazine has a long history of reaching deep into our community and shining a light on the injustice and inhumanity of the death of young black boys at the hands of those who have a clear disregard for our babies’ lives. Indeed, it was Jet’s brave decision in September 1955 to run pictures of the broken, bloated, disfigured body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old child killed by a mob of white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman, that helped to galvanize our community around the Civil Rights Movement. Some 58 years later, Jet is taking another stand, this time on behalf of Jordan Davis, a beautiful black boy who did not have to die this way. Who shouldn’t have died in this way.

I invite you to pick up an issue of Jet magazine with Jordan’s beautiful picture on the cover—on newsstands today. Read his story. Feel his parents pain. And make a commitment, along with Mrs. McBath, Mr. Davis and Jet magazine, to lift our collective voice in the quest for serious gun reform that will protect not only babies like those who died in the Newtown, CT, massacre, but babies like Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin and countless other black children who have become the victims of laws that make it easy for people to shoot to kill and get away with it.

Read a preview of the Jordan Davis story on JetMag.com and be sure to buy a copy of Jet’s January 14, 2013 issue on newsstands everywhere. Also, below, check out Mitzi talking about the Jordan Davis cover on the brilliant Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show.


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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

13 Comments

  1. Unfortunately Jordan’s story is the story of so many of our young Black men. On the night of Easter last year, my 20 year old daughter lost her boyfriend (a 21 year old college student) to a senseless shooting that should not have happened.

    He was at a pool party in an apartment complex with friends, the music was louder than it probably should have been. The kids were rapping and partying. The police had already been called and were pulling up to the apartment complex, but a frustrated neighbor, a young white college student, decided to take matters into his own hands. He came out to the pool area with a friend and a gun. Words were exchanged, shots were fired by this young man and early the following morning, my daughter’s boyfriend was pronounced dead. The young man who shot him was also a college student at another school and my daughter’s boyfriend was not even the one who the young man had argued with, he was just the unfortunate target of the bullet.

    My daughter had to go through something I have never had to face even at my age. His parents (his father is a minister and his mother is an evangelist) had to bury a son whose life was full of promise. His story did not go national. His parents are prominent in their local community and instead of seeking comfort, they were giving comfort to the young man’s many friends and church & family members. Easter will never be the same for them or my daughter. The story of her first serious love will never bring a smile to my daughter’s face. But his story is just one of many that will be reflected in the story of Jordan Russell Davis, Trevon Martin and all the others who will not be able to tell their own stories.

    As a mother of a son in the same age group, as a mother of a daughter who is still in pain, I live with these stories and pray that I won’t be the next mother standing over the grave of her child, gone too soon.

  2. This is a sad story, but why is it featured on the cover of Jet Magazine? This is what pisses me off about black media. They only care about our black youth getting gun-downed when the shooter is white/non-black. I can name at least 4 young men who lost their lives in far worst ways than Trayvon Martin and worst was than Jordan Davis. However, they will never grace the cover of Jet Magazine or any black magazine. Their parents will not appear on Dr. Phil nor will they be paid…excuse me, receive “donations” so they could globe-trot the entire USA telling their stories. And why not??? Because there is no race angle the media could use. The treatment these victims and their loves ones receive is a slap in the face to the victims and the loved ones of those who weren’t lucky enough to have their lives taken by a white/non-black person.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Baby-Boi,

      I really do wish that instead of tearing down the magazines that uplift us, that you would actually read them. Ebony and Jet have been doing an incredible job covering the senseless shootings occurring in Chicago, especially, considering they are based there. I’ve also seen Essence do some incredible work on the subject over the years. It’s not just about race. It’s about the deaths of our children.

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