Mother of Sandra Bland, others campaign for Clinton
Hillary Clinton holds hands with Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, in Chicago on Feb. 17, 2016. (Photo: Tannen Maury, epa)
Hillary Clinton holds hands with Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, in Chicago on Feb. 17, 2016. (Photo: Tannen Maury, epa)

By Eileen Rivers, USA TODAY

Last Updated, 5:59 p.m. ET, Feb. 23, 2016

Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of the 28-year-old Sandra Bland, who died in police custody, along with Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Garner, and Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, have joined ranks with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The women spoke during a Feb. 23 pro-Clinton forum in South Carolina.  Reed-Veal also stumped for Clinton before the Nevada primary by introducing the candidate to a crowd of African-American voters in Chicago.

Support from the Garner family is divided, with Garner’s daughter, Erica Garner — who became a civil rights activist after her father’s death in New York — throwing support behind Bernie Sanders (see brief below).

Is it possible to parlay BLM leadership into mayoral success?
Activist DeRay McKesson (Photo by Kimberly White, Getty Images for GLAAD)
Activist DeRay McKesson (Photo by Kimberly White, Getty Images for GLAAD)

When DeRay McKesson, a former teacher and current Black Lives Matter activist, announced on Twitter Feb. 3 that he is running for mayor of Baltimore, the news spread rapidly across social media and solicited two very different responses from two very different communities.

His rising popularity has caused some fellow activists, according to a (New York) Daily News report, to accuse him of fanning his own celebrity. Political analysts seem to applaud the fact that, as a former school administrator, his agenda goes beyond civil rights. The platform released on his website,, has a steely focus on education and youth development; access to jobs and livable incomes; and improving the safety of Baltimore communities through, among other things, changing the police department’s use-of-force policy, ending the war on drugs and establishing community first-responders.

And just as the announcement spread rapidly, so did support. Within 24 hours of a “leaked” mayoral race announcement, he had raised $40,000, according to reports. Even before that, he had sparred with both Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah on the late-night talk show circuit.

Wearing his trademark blue vest, McKesson, one of the founders of Campaign Zero, an activist site that pushes policy reform as a means to improve policing, schooled Colbert on “staying woke,” undoing the impact of racism and what Colbert could do to dismantle his own white privilege. See his appearance on Colbert below.

McKesson has also amassed more than 300,000 followers on Twitter.

But that doesn’t mean that his road to Democratic nominee in Baltimore will be easy.  He’s competing in this primary against 12 other candidates including Sheila Dixon, the Democratic front-runner who served as mayor from 2007 until her resignation in 2010 following a conviction; Councilman Carl Stokes; and Fells Point bar owner Mike Maraziti. If McKesson wins his party’s primary, the likelihood of him becoming mayor of Baltimore is strong in the mostly blue city.

His motto, “together we will win,” is also on the Campaign Zero site.

Erica Garner’s vote goes with Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Photo: Elaine Thompson, AP)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Photo: Elaine Thompson, AP)

Not only are young feminists supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders in his bid to be the Democratic nominee for president, but it seems that black activists are throwing their weight behind him, too.

Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, the unarmed black man who was killed by New York City police during an altercation in 2014, stars in a political ad supporting Sanders. In it, she talks about her activism, the death of her father and how the candidate’s values reflect and speak up for the movement.  “We need to believe in a leader like Bernie Sanders,” she says while sitting on a couch in her home. The ad also features her young daughter asking about the civil rights movement as stirring music sets the tone for the commercial’s dramatic and emotional reflection.

“For a whole year I’ve protested. … I feel like a representative for people throughout this nation. … I’m never giving up, I’m never going to forget and I don’t want the world to forget what happened to my father.” 

Erica Garner

Erica Garner (Photo: screenshot from ad)
Erica Garner (Photo: screenshot from ad)

See the full video here.