Newtown Parents’ Message to ESSENCE Readers
Samantha Isom

“Let me tell you about my daughter,” Nelba Greene begins. “She was loving, compassionate, smart, funny and bold. She would dance so freely I thought she was going to be a Soul Train dancer.”

“She was sparkle and song,” Nelba’s husband, Jimmy, adds.

Two months after their 6-year-old daughter was killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Greenes are together in their living room, remembering Ana Grace in an emotional interview with ESSENCE magazine. During their sit-down with writer Asha Bandele — a May 2013 ESSENCE feature that kicks off a series aimed at making our communities safer — the grieving parents also express their frustration with partisan politics and what Jimmy describes as “the lack of meaningful action on gun violence.”

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“The first sympathy letters we got did not begin with ‘I’m a Republican’ or ‘I’m a Democrat,’ ” Nelba says. “They began with ‘I’m so sorry.’ ” Nelba says she saw genuine anguish in President Obama’s eyes when he came to Newtown and met with the families 48 hours after the shooting. “He looked at Ana’s picture and his eyes welled up with tears,” she remembers. “He said, ‘She looks like she could have been one of mine.’ His pain was real, and it was the pain of a parent, not a President.”

For the full interview with the Greenes, in which they describe that tragic morning of December 14 and reveal how they are coping for the sake of their surviving son, pick up the May 2013 issue of ESSENCE.

Join our Guns Down initiative now by downloading a letter to President Obama here and tweet your picture using the #ESSENCEGunsDown hashtag. Download the letter here.