On March 18, 2018, Stephon Alonzo Clark's family changed forever.
Sequita Thompson was at home with her husband and granddaughter that evening when she heard gunshots near her house. “I crawled on the floor and I started praying. And I said 'please God, don’t let us get shot, don’t let us get shot,'” said Thompson.
Little did she know the target was her grandson, Stephon, who was shot and killed in her back yard by the Sacramento Police. Police said they believed Clark was holding a gun. But in fact, he was actually holding a cellphone.
In response to no charges being filed against the officers responsible, Stephon's mother and grandmother became committed to keeping his name alive.
Two years later, the family has transmuted their pain into purpose as they fight for justice, support other mothers who have lost their children to police and gun violence and became a light for their community.
Stephon's mother, SeQuette Clark, is a founder of the I Am Sac Foundation, which has successfully fought for the passing of Assembly Bill 392, the Stephon Clark law, in California which created tougher standards for police to use deadly force. She also hosts an annual event for mothers to support their healing.
"Because I found my faith again, I found my voice, OK. And my voice comes in a perspective of empathy and giving the mothers who haven't found their voice yet a voice," said SeQuette Clark.
His grandmother, Mrs. Thompson, is the founder of Blessed Child Community, which creates positive programming for children and has transformed the back yard where her grandson was killed into a garden for children to grow their own food.
The title 'Mother of the Movement' is not something anyone would want. But because their strength and passion for justice has inspired so many, it is the title they have earned.
Sequita Thompson and SeQuette Clark sat down with FIELD NOTES to discuss what it’s like to deal with the trauma of losing a loved one this way and how they have worked to help other women and families, who have lost sons and daughters, through it. We also spoke to KCRA's Brandi Cummings, who has covered the family's story closely since 2018 to get her insight.
Each week, “Field Notes” brings you a handful of stories about how people across the country are educating themselves, speaking out against racism, and finding ways to help the United States get closer to becoming a place that's safe and inclusive for all.