MOBB Making A Change!
As my telephone interview with Depelsha McGruder, Founder of Moms of Black Boys started I took a moment to stop and think about how I was going to write an article that would line up with her standard of excellence. I thought to myself, the woman on the phone with me has a bachelors degree in journalism from Howard University, a masters degree from Harvard Business School, she is an entertainment executive, a mother, a wife and she founded Mom’s of Black Boys. I had super woman on the line. When I asked about her credentials she was very modest. I have to be honest, I was still a little intimidated. Then we shifted gears and I asked when was the moment that she decided to make Moms of Black Boys United a resource for women all over the world. At that very moment Depelsha McGruder became my sister, my mother, my, auntie, and my friend. Her recap of her experience during the 24 hours that Philando Castille and Alton Sterling were killed by police in two different states was heart wrenching.
She had to pause before she spoke. “I was visiting family in Atalanta the day Alton Sterling was killed. As we were getting ready to head back home to Brooklyn the news of his death broke. When I made it home and turned the television on the video of Alton Sterling being held down and shot to death was being aired everywhere. The footage was disturbing because it was so graphic. The next morning before I could get out of bed there was another video of a Black man out of Minnesota being murdered in front of his girlfriend and his 4 year old daughter on a routine traffic stop. I tried to figure out if the cases were related but I couldn’t connect the dots. When I found out the cases were not related sadness and fear over took me. Philando Castille, the man in Minnesota had no criminal history and was a beloved cafeteria worker at a Montessori school. Alton Sterling was a father selling DVDs in front of a liquor store to support his family. Neither man was a threat to anybody. There had just been 2 unjustified killings of Black men by law enforcement in a 24 hour period. Needless to say, It took me longer than usual to get out of bed that morning.”
When Depelsha McGruder finally got out of bed she made her sons, 4 and 8 years old breakfast and tried to go on about her everyday activities. The need to do something to curb her feelings of hopelessness persisted. She went to her computer and logged into her FaceBook page. She’d had the name MOBB (Mom’s of Black Boys) on her mind for a while and decided to use it to create a Facebook group. “ I don’t usually create Facebook groups. This is just not something I normally do. This was done out of a pure and personal place, through my need to connect with other moms who could understand what I was feeling.” As this Harvard Business School graduate sat at her computer she posted, “ I am starting this group today because I don’t know what else to do.” She was afraid for the lives of Black men and boys and knew other mothers of Black men and boys would understand her fears. Depelsha added 30 friends to the group. In five minutes the group grew to 150 people. Mrs. McGruder did not know that other people were adding their friends to MOBB as well. By the end of the day 21,500 people were added to MOBB . “Facebook shut us down for little while so they could make sure we were a real group and not a promotion or gimmick. Moms were sharing photos of their beautiful sons, their sons accomplishments, and their fears for their sons.” The love that the women have for their sons was flowing. The fact that this Facebook group grew at such an alarming rate illustrated the need for support in this situation and situations of the like. Since then the MOBB’s Facebook group has grown to 140k and has developed into a fully functional community service organization, MOBB UNITED, with moms mobilizing on a national and international scale. MOBB United has members in the UK, Canada, and Singapore.
MOBB United’s focus is to influence legislative policy, change the perception that the world has of Black men and boys, demonstrate collective, political, and economic power within the communities that they serve, strategically partner with other organizations that can assist MOBB United in carrying out its mission, and promoting self-care for moms of boys and their families. MOBB United will share their focus with the Congressional Black Caucus September 14-18, 2016. These mothers of all ages and races will also stand for Initiative HR5221, which make de-escalation training mandatory for all police officers. HR5221 will also ensure that de-escalation training is updated on a regular basis and that it is properly implemented when it used on suspects. Committees have been formed and prosecutors, doctors, business women, housewives, nurses, and policewomen, and many other phenomenal women have all come together 140K strong, world wide, in full formation for one reason… Their sons.
For more information on MOBB United, go to www.mobbunited.org and follow the group on Twitter and Instagram @mobbunited, and Facebook at mobbunited