Wanda Johnson knows pain. She was thrust into the national spotlight in 2009, after her son Oscar Grant III was shot and killed by former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on a Bay Area subway platform. Video of Grant’s murder went viral, and during the ensuing media onslaught and criminal trial, Johnson had the unimaginable task of trying to sum up her son’s life for reporters.
Now there’s word that Johnson, alongside other Bay Area mothers who have lost children to violence, is taking part in a theater project that tries to make sense of all the chaos. “Love Balm for My SpiritChild: Testimonies of Healing Justice through Mothers’ Memory” is a 4-part performance workshop that brings together the pain and resilience of mothers who’ve lost their children to violence.
Artistic Director Arielle Brown wrote this about the project:
The Love Balm performance features testimonies from the mothers and grandmothers of Kenneth Harding Jr, Oscar Grant III, Kerry Baxter Jr, Christopher La Vell Jones, Daniel Booker and more.
Love Balm for My SpiritChild grew out of witnessing the revolutionary acts of mothers fighting for justice for their children after their murdered children. It was specifically inspired by how mothers’ memory has served as a vehicle for justice for the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, Oscar Grant III, Amadou Diallo, Emmett Till, Kenneth Harding Jr and so many more. The workshop/performance is rooted in testimonies and monologues from the revolutionary mothers of these children.
Love Balm for My SpiritChild engages mothers in the community who identify with having experienced the murder of personal and communal children. Women in the workshops were asked to bring in their own experiences as mothers fighting for justice for their children. Through this process of communal creativity, participants in this workshop share with each other the love balms of healing justice that they gift to their children in their fight for liberation.
Stay tuned for more about the project.