Mother of Oscar Grant speaks to students

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On February 19, 2015, the African American Employee Council hosted an event called “Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter” with keynote speaker Wanda Johnson.

Wanda Johnson is the mother of Oscar Grant III, an unarmed 22-year old man shot and killed in Oakland by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in 2009.

Johnson spoke about the event that took place on the day her son was killed to a diverse, packed crowd in the South Forum.

Grant was returning home from a night of being with friends on New Year’s Eve. They were coming from a celebration in San Francisco when a fight broke out on the BART train he was on.

Authorities pulled Grant aside at the Fruitvale Stop, restraining him and pinning him to the ground while bystanders captured the event with their cellphones.

“I’m the one who told him to take the BART, thinking he would be safe,” said Johnson.

“I didn’t want them out there drinking and driving.”

Mehserle was convicted of killing Grant in 2010 and served less than a year.

Grant leaves behind one daughter.

She said the event affected her because he will never be able to see his daughter grow up.

“It has affected me dearly. It’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Oscar and his daughter. How his life was robbed, he will never get to see his daughter graduate, get married or have children,” she said. “He will never see that. So it’s very painful, but the pain has turned into a fight. To say that, whoever I can help and encourage when they have to face situations like this. I’m there to do that it’s just something in me.”

She also spoke on equality and how important it is to vote.
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“…There’s still no laws that have changed and until we begin to change the laws and begin to hold officers accountable for their actions, we’re still going to be in the same situations that we’re in,” she said.

Johnson said we shouldn’t allow jealousy and envy fester inside of us.

“Number one, we have to begin to love one another and see ourselves as special, unique, intelligent kings and queens and royal priesthoods, so that we can begin to teach that, so that a change can take place,” she said.

Johnson noted similarities between her son and the case of Mike Brown, specifically, the portrayals of the victims.
“They began to demonize them both. They tried to go all in [Grant’s] background to try to find things. Then they began to ask me things like did I go to school and I told them listen, ‘I have an AA, my BA and my Masters, I been to seminary.’ ‘Well you didn’t have time to raise your son!’ they said. I said: ‘Um, excuse me; I had plenty of time to raise my son.’ So that’s what they tried to do, character assassinate both [of] the families. They talked about the rioting here and there but they never talked about the good marches and protest that took place. There are just so many similarities,” she said.