Sandra Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, gave an emotional speech at the Library of Congress during a symposium assembled by the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.
Reed-Veal, who lost her daughter after she was arrested during a traffic stop in Texas and found dead in her cell, spoke out about the many other women who'd died in police custody the same month she lost her daughter.
"What I’m going to say to you is that I’m here representing the mothers who are not heard, I am here representing the mothers who have lost children as we go on about our daily lives," she said.
When the cameras and lights are gone, our babies are dead. So I’m going to ask you here today to wake up. Wake up. By a show of hands, can any of you tell me the other six women who died in jail in July 2015 along with Sandra Bland? That is a problem. You all are among the walking dead, and I am so glad that I have come out from among you."
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The goal of the recently formed congressional caucus is to find ways to eradicate the large disparities and barriers that black women face. Brian Encinia, the trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, was fired in January after being charged with perjury for lying about his interaction with Bland and a panel formed after Bland's death recently recommended an overhaul of the jail.
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"Am I angry? Absolutely," Reed-Veal said, "I’m not angry enough to create a riot where I burn things down, but I will create a riot, I will set off so that people will understand that this is real. Movements move. Activists activate. We have got to stop talking and move. So I leave you with this: It is time to wake up, get up, step up, or shut up."
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