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Son’s Death Spurs Mother To Fight Violence


When Dorothy Johnson-Speight’s son Khaaliq was killed in 2001, she thought her life was over. He wasn’t the first child she lost – her 3-year-old daughter had died almost 15 years to the day before
Khaaliq’s murder -- but he was the first child lost to violence, and his death shook her.
“It’s not the natural order of things to have to bury your children,” she said. “Children should bury their parents.”

To help deal with the violence, she met with other women who had lost family to violence.

“Many of then could have laid down and died… with the pain of the loss,” she said. “But instead, they joined forces…to do something about the violence.”

The organization they formed is called Mothers In Charge, and together,
these women advocate for measures to prevent violence. It’s not
simple, though, a fact Johnson-Speight learned quickly.

“It’s a very complex problem,” she said. “I think maybe
initially I thought…just if we would scream and we talked about the
violence, it would end.”

Eventually, the group developed strategies like early intervention --
including programs for mentoring young people and teaching conflict
resolution – and sought legislative solutions.

Johnson-Speight is in town to speak at Campbell Law School in Raleigh
and St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Durham. She hopes that if
nothing else, hearing her story will convince other people to get

“If you’ve lost a child, the cost is…the highest price that I think
one can pay,” she said. “But even if you haven’t, there’s a cost
that you pay.”

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Alex Granados joined The State of Things in July 2010. He got his start in radio as an intern for the show in 2005 and loved it so much that after trying his hand as a government reporter, reader liaison, features, copy and editorial page editor at a small newspaper in Manassas, Virginia, he returned to WUNC. Born in Baltimore but raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, Alex moved to Raleigh in time to do third grade twice and adjust to public school after having spent years in the sheltered confines of a Christian elementary education. Alex received a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also has a minor in philosophy, which basically means that he used to think he was really smart but realized he wasn’t in time to switch majors. Fishing, reading science fiction, watching crazy movies, writing bad short stories, and shooting pool are some of his favorite things to do. Alex still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he is holding out for astronaut.
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