Florida parents

Florida Parents of Murdered Children wear T-shirts and shed tears in memory of sons' and daughters' lives. Photo courtesy of Brite Eyes Photography

Tangela Sears is an apt testament of how death alters the landscape of a mother’s life. Her only child, David Queen was murdered during a shooting in Tallahassee on May 20, 2015. No measure of time will heal the pain she embodies and admittedly, Sears struggles every day. She has emerged a warrior with a mission to breathe life and light into other Florida parents whose sons’ and daughters’ lives were claimed by gun violence.

Four years ago, Sears founded Florida Parents of Murdered Children. On Wednesday, Jan. 1, Mt. Cavalry MB Church in Miami opened its doors to host the fourth annual candlelight vigil to commemorate children now gone and unify the community.

Mt. Cavalry pastor, Reverend Billy Strange served as presiding host for the festivities, his third time embracing the role. Cisely Scott served as committee co-chair.

“God breathed on this year’s event,” said Strange. “This year was more highly emotional than others. It ignited an intense awareness of violence and its impact. The mood, crowd, emotion. There was just a distinct difference, a different aura.”

Sears and Strange share roots that reach deep, all the way to their Bahamian grandparents. They’ve shared more than three decades of family memories and grief.

Strange who first helped his kindred friend when her son murdered.

From the casket to spiritual counseling, he continues to support when called upon. Sears was additionally supported by more than 15 community sponsors including political leaders and law enforcement.

“I focus on the families that have actually gone through this process. Every family has gone through different things,” said Sears who is aware that not all surviving parents are ready to talk, wear a T-shirt, or even receive a hug.

“We have a group and we meet every Tuesday, so we stay engaged. These were the people, the parents in attendance along with neighbors and friends. Sybrina Fulton, founder of Circle of Moms was out of town, but would have attended,” she added.

Policy and legislation to change and enforce gun laws are also an undertaking that Sears holds close to her heart. While her son’s death was an inspiration to establish a progressive organization, Sears has been a community activist and political consultant on the rise for more than 35 years. She, too, has worked directly with multiple state attorneys.

“I knew that I was able to assist in making some things different, but I didn’t understand the entire impact until I lost my son,” said Sears. “When I sat with families, many didn’t understand the process or understand how things should be done. Many parents didn’t even know they were supposed to stay in contact with investigators. I am an advocate in my community. I go to court with families.”

When the Florida legislative session begins in March, Sears will be present as she has in year’s past. She has worked with state Rep. Carrie Meek, her initial mentor, and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson who is godmother to Sears’ late son.

Despite grievous events that brought people together, the ultimate outcome would be that no child is murdered by gun violence.

“The faith-based community should do something on a regular basis to keep the movement alive,”said Strange. “There needs to be a promotion in place to keep the pain these parents live in resonate. You don’t want to go through it to understand the severity.”

Sears offered her friends and supporters the following inspiring message:

“Your support and love puts a smile on our faces in the midst of the pain. Again, thanks for committing yourself to support us on New Year’s Day, the first day of the year. Happy New Year to you and your family and together we can decrease gun violence.”

Senior Staff Writer

Penny Dickerson is a journalist who recently returned from an Africa sojourn. Her editorial focus is human interest, healthcare, arts & culture. She is a recipient of multiple journalism fellowships.

Load comments