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.