In a muggy, cramped Baptist church here Tuesday night, five grieving mothers —- all of whom have lost a child to gun violence or allegations of police brutality -— sat on stage beside Hillary Clinton, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly for a roundtable where they shared their stories, made a plea for gun control and offered their heart-felt endorsements of the Democratic presidential candidate.
"Nobody reached out to us. Nobody listened to us. Nobody said black lives matter until this brave and powerful woman stood up for us,” Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager who was killed by George Zimmerman in 2012, said about Clinton at the Central Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C.
Fulton is one of the five women who call themselves the “Mothers of the Movement,” referring to a growing, national effort to end racial violence and to reform the criminal justice system. The group also includes the mothers of Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, Jordan Davis and Sandra Bland.
Dontre Hamilton's mom describes first meeting w Clinton: "I broke down on her shoulder. I owe her a cleaning bill." pic.twitter.com/xUuYy7SmOm— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) February 24, 2016
The mothers had a private meeting with Clinton in Chicago last November, and they are now traveling South Carolina to campaign for her ahead of the state's primary on Saturday.
"I think about my son day in and day out, I live with this day in and day out, these mothers live with this day in and day out, and we have an opportunity to have someone who is gonna stand up for us as African-Americans, for us as women, I say my vote goes to Hillary Clinton,” Fulton explained.
“I endorse her, because she endorsed us first,” Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, whose daughter has endorsed Bernie Sanders, added.
Both Clinton and Sanders have recently made a blatant pitch to African-Americans — a demographic that is expected to make up nearly half of the Democratic voters in South Carolina, where Clinton is leading by double digits.
Her campaign event on Tuesday came just hours after a federal judge said some of Clinton’s top aides should testify over the use of her private email server while Secretary of State.
While Clinton did not address her emails during the roundtable with the mothers, she later brushed off the new development when asked about it during a CNN town hall that evening.
“It is just not something that, you know, is going to have any lasting effect,” Clinton said, "And I am not at all worried about it.”