Some of Hillary Clinton's most powerful surrogates aren't celebrities or other politicians— instead, they're the Mothers of the Movement, a group of black women who've lost their children in high-profile cases of gun violence or police encounters.
The group includes Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis; Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland; Maria Hamilton, the mother of Dontre Hamilton; and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin. The deaths of their children spurred protests in African-American communities that extended across the country and became known as the Black Lives Matter movement. Heartbroken as the mothers are, they're using their collective voices to make the case for the Democratic presidential nominee. Last weekend, they came to campaign in Orlando and encourage early voting.
In a phone interview, McBath says she wants people to know Clinton has been working in communities of color for decades, not only as an attorney but also as a first lady.
"She didn't all of a sudden decide to jump on this bandwagon," says McBath, whose son was killed
by Michael Dunn after playing loud music in the parking lot of a Florida gas station. "She's invested in communities of color, she's invested in making sure people are free from being gunned down and she's invested in making sure she addresses unlawful policing. People must be willing to vote."
Carr, whose son died
after being put in a chokehold by New York police, says her top priority is police reform.
"We want these police officers to stand accountable for misconduct," she says. "They're literally getting away with murder. It has to stop. [Clinton] stood with us, which is why we're standing with her. We believe her."
The mothers hope to help Clinton reach millennial people of color, especially African-American millennials. Unlike older black voters, younger black voters slightly favored
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, including Carr's granddaughter, Erica Garner
. The group says it understands younger voters might feel discouraged and upset by the system, but they encourage them to make their voices heard.
"I've become the voice for my son," says Maria Hamilton, whose son was fatally shot
by a police officer. "Our children don't have a voice now. They didn't have the opportunity to speak. We have to take prevention measures to stop this from happening again. We have to be the voice for all."
McBath says people need to stop talking about the rhetoric thrown out by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and focus on fixing problems.
"I truly want to know what his platform is on the issues," she says. "I want to understand what he plans to change. We need to stop talking about the mess of 'He did this,' or 'He did that.' We need policies."