Mother's Prayer Vigil 2014: Love, Life and Loss

At the 2014 ESSENCE Festival, heartbroken mothers who’d lost their sons to gun violence gathered together with their children's photos in hand for our 2nd annual prayer vigil. Here a few of the women reminisce about what they love and miss most about their late sons and daughters. 

1 of 15 Michael Rowe

Yolanda Cheneau lost her son Jonathan Sam, 23, on December 14, 2013

"My son was a very loving person. He was always the light of the party. He would always be the last one to get there, but once he walked through the door, there was a smile on everybody else’s face."

2 of 15 Michael Rowe

Evelyn Cargo lost her sons Eric, 29, in 2011 and Henry Cargo, 28, in 2008

"My sons were happy, young. They weren’t angels, but they were mine. Henry loved to dance and party. Eric wasn’t a party-type person, but he loved to go out to clubs."

3 of 15 Michael Rowe

Annette Warren lost her son Darnell Warren, 28, on April 18, 2010

"My son was a momma’s baby. Every morning, when he got off work, we would go out to eat. He never gave me any trouble, it was always, “Whatever you want mom.” He always used to tell me, “Mom, if something happened to you, I wouldn’t know what I would do.” But it was him that something happened to."

4 of 15 Michael Rowe

Shawn James lost her daughter Shawnese James, 13, in 2003

"My daughter was lovable, kind, respectful. She loved children and her goal was to be a doctor. She loved her grandmother dearly. They had a bond that was unbreakable. She was my first, my pride and joy."

5 of 15 Michael Rowe

Patrice Junius lost her daughter Christiania Junius, 20, in 2011

"My daughter was never a disobedient child. She kept a smile on her face. She was going to school and she was working. Other than that, she was just a sweet person. Never bothered anybody."

6 of 15 Michael Rowe

Diane Hosey lost her son Nicolas Hosey, 29, on October 5, 2011

"My son was a kind person and he loved to be with his family. When we would have our family reunion, he would make sure all the young people would come. Now it’s just a few come — but they come for me now."

7 of 15 Michael Rowe

Margaret George's son Tyrone Lawrence, 26, died on October 20, 2004

"My son was everything. He was my first child and he meant the world to my family and me. He gave me my ups and downs, he wasn’t a perfect child, but still he was mine and he was good. Throughout all his obstacles in life, he loved God."

8 of 15 Michael Rowe

Gina Cannon-Jones lost her son Leslie Cannon, 19, on September 20, 2008

"My son was happy, always happy. He was non-violent, always smiling and just got caught in the crossfire of a shooting. And the result of it led to his death."

9 of 15 Michael Rowe

Dorothy Johnson White lost her son Calvin Johnson, Jr., 23, in 2009

"My son was my first child. He was very happy, outgoing and loving. I never had any problems. He was a wonderful man. Everybody was always excited to see him."

10 of 15 Michael Rowe

Desiree Watson Jones lost her son Yoshio “Sockie” Watson, 30, In 2005  

"My son was a very humble person. He didn’t take after me. He didn’t take after his dad, but he took from his dad’s side. He stood out. He would be there, but you didn’t have to hear him to know that."

11 of 15 Michael Rowe

Cutine Pittman lost her grandson, Jaquan Jasper Pittman, 18, on July 10, 2012

"My grandson was…a very lively person. He was getting ready to go into the Air Force. He graduated from high school with a 3.5 average. It’s a hurting thing [to lose someone] and a lot of people don’t know what you’re going through."

12 of 15 Michael Rowe

Antoinette Butler lost her son Brandon Butler, 24, on December 26, 2011

"My son was a good role model. He was good to everybody, even to the person that ended up taking his life unfortunately. But even now, I don’t think that he would be really angry with her. He would forgive her because he was a forgiving person, unlike me. I’m very — I’m angry about what happened, but I do know that I have to move forward."

13 of 15 Michael Rowe

Lillian Tillman lost her son, Alton Laraque III, 19, in 2007

"My son was a great kid. He was really funny. We loved him. He was the third oldest and he was very smart. Very intelligent. We did a lot of things like poetry. He was a normal kid trying to enjoy life."

14 of 15 Michael Rowe

Michelle Bias-Sullivan lost her son Ralph Bias, 20, on January 5, 2011

"My son was a joyous, wonderful person who liked to help people. He was so kind. All of his kind moments stay with me."

15 of 15 Michael Rowe

Mothers pin pictures of the children they lost on the ESSENCE Wall of Remembrance.