Lezley McSpadden, whose son Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in 2014 in Ferguson, MO, is running for office.
The death of the unarmed Black teenager sparked protests in the city and across the country. McSpadden announced her candidacy for Ferguson city council at a press conference Friday.
"Almost four years ago to this day, I ran down the street and my son was covered in a sheet," McSpadden said. She recalled how her son’s death "broke" her. "It made me feel crippled, as if I could do nothing else anymore."
But over time, she said, she "learned to walk again... This is one of my first steps," she told press and supporters.
She was quick to challenge those who might question her qualifications, saying her son’s death and the events that followed inspired her to run.
"If a mother had to watch her son lay in the street for four-and-a-half hours and watch a community be completely disrespected by elected officials that we elected, what would you do?" she questioned. "You would stand up and you would fight, too."
McSpadden said her platform will focus on community policing, economic equality, and access to healthcare for the city’s residents. Ferguson has a population of over 20,000 people, almost 66% of whom identify as Black or African-American, according to census data.
Her announcement came just days after the Missouri primary, which saw the ousting of Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor who failed to get an indictment against Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson police officer who shot Brown. McCulloch had held the position for more than 20 years and was unseated by Wesley Bell, a Black city councilperson and advocate of criminal-justice reform. Many saw his victory as a win for the Black Lives Matter movement.
McSpadden is the latest in a group of mothers who say that gun violence and the deaths of their children inspired them to run for office.
Lucy McBath's 17-year-old son Jordan Davis was gunned down in 2012 by a white man who was complaining about the rap music coming from the car Jordan and his friends were in. She is now running for a U.S House in a suburban Atlanta district.
"This [campaign] has been my therapy," McBath told Refinery29 earlier this year. "This has been the best therapy in the world for me because it makes me feel like Jordan didn't die in vain, because we can change the culture that he died under. Jordan's death was the catalyst for me becoming the person that I have always been — but maybe I would never have taken a leap of faith if not for that."