Son’s Death Spurs Mother To Fight Violence

Mar 26, 2013

Khaaliq Johnson

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.”