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2022 Midterms

Uvalde Shooting Reminds McBath Why She Ran for Congress in the First Place

The 61-year-old representative launched her political career in the wake of previous gun violence.

U.S. flags fly at half staff at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, on May 25, to honor the victims of the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-6th, delivered a passionate speech linking the murder of her son to mass shootings. (Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath spent more time Tuesday night talking about mass shootings and gun violence than celebrating her landslide Democratic primary win.

News of the horrifying mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, seemed to remind McBath why she ran for Congress in the first place, and the disproportionate impact gun violence has on Black people in America like her and her family.

The 61-year-old anti-gun violence advocate, whose son, Jordan Davis, was fatally shot by a white man in 2012, launched her political career in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

Her supporters from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America were in the room Tuesday night when McBath delivered a passionate speech linking the murder of her son to mass shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, Buffalo, New York, and now Uvalde.

Here’s the full text of her speech:

I am joined here by my loving and truly caring husband, Curtis. My daughter, Theresa, I’m so happy you’re here, and I look forward to what the future will bring for both of us. My sister, Lisa, who has been with me through thick and thin. Anita, Lisa, Stephanie, my rocks and good friends, who have always been there for me. Jan and Dwayne, who have never ceased to cover my journey in prayer.

And of course, I want to thank the volunteers and voters who’ve worn down the rubber on their shoes knocking doors and making calls, and the hard-working Georgian’s who’ve dug into their pockets to give what they could — you have all made this possible.

But I do have to thank my moms, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, because, ladies and gentlemen, that is how I actually got my start. This grassroots army of volunteers have been with me from the very beginning as we champion to keep our communities safe from unnecessary gun violence. This is your army across the country.

Tonight, I came to give one speech, but I am now forced to make another.

Because just hours ago, we paid for the weapons of war on our streets again, with the blood of little children sitting in our schools.

We paid for unfettered gun access, with phone calls to mothers and fathers who have gasped for air when their desperation would not let them breathe, who have sunk to their knees when their agony just would not let them stand.

It was the phone call that every parent fears.

It’s a singular fear, an all-consuming fear; a love so deep for our children that we wake up in a cold sweat worrying, “Is my child OK? How is he? How is she? Where are they?

We all have it. We all feel that way sometimes.

God gave me all the radiance that came with raising my son, Jordan. Of sitting on the floor with Jordan watching him play and watching him giggle. Of watching him go out the door on his first day of school with a backpack as big as he was. Of watching him grow and think about the world in ways that only Jordan could.

And 40 years after my parents pushed me in the stroller at the March on Washington; 40 years after they had fought against the racism that made them separate, but entirely unequal; 40 years after they courageously fought to fully realize our nation as the land of the free and the home of the brave, my son was murdered simply because of the color of his skin.

And across the country, from Uvalde to Sandy Hook, from Charleston to Buffalo, the violence that took my son is being replayed with casual callousness and despicable frequency. And the children who survive these shootings will now live the rest of their lives with the trauma that only stepping over a friend covered in blood could ever bring.

We are better than this. We have to be better than this. We cannot be the only nation where our children are torn apart on Tuesday and their deaths are gone from the news cycle by Wednesday.

We cannot be the only nation where one party sits on their hands as children are forced to cover their faces in fear.

We are exhausted, all of us, the American majority. We are exhausted because we cannot continue to be the only country in the world where we let this happen again and again and again.

And that is why, on the steps of the courthouse after Jordan’s trial, I made a promise to my son, I made a promise to my community, to my family, that I would live the rest of my life, every day, and I would act.

I promised that I would take all of that devotion a mother has for her child — all the love that poured out of my soul and into my tears — that I would do everything in my power to keep Jordan’s community safe.

And that is why we’re here tonight. We are here because this isn’t just a policy agenda. This isn’t just numbers in a budget or text on a page.

This is about the challenges that we’ve faced, the obstacles we’ve overcome, the experiences that have shaped us, and the lives we’ve lived that simply have made us who we are.

This is about real people with real challenges. And the work we do in Washington — it’s not hypothetical.

It’s the daughter off at college who just received the call that will change her life — who has just learned that her mother has breast cancer, who drives through the night to be with the woman who raised her, frightened that her mom may not be there to watch her raise a family of her own.

It’s the brother who lost his sister at Sandy Hook, at Uvalde. It’s the father who lost his daughter at Parkland. It’s the mother who lost her son at a gas station with his friends simply for playing his music too loud.

These are our journeys — walks on paths that God has laid out for us.

God raised me in the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, with parents who fought so hard that one day we would all be regarded by the fullness of our hearts, not the color of our skin.

And I thank every one of you that are in this room tonight, because you sent this mom on a mission to Congress. And all of us, together, can continue to do this work — the work we need to do in Washington, the work we need to do right here in Georgia, and right here in our communities to keep our families together, and the dreams and aspirations of our nation, to keep them alive.

Because this night isn’t the end of an election, but the beginning of the change that each and every one of us must be. Tonight, we are not [at] the end of a challenge, but we are actually on the face of a mountain. One arm ahead to pull ourselves up; the other stretched back, to embrace those who feel forgotten or left behind.

America has always been defined by the challenges that we face, and we face a grave one tonight. But we can be a nation where the many — the many who may not look like us, think like us, or worship or act like us — are simply one nation.

So tonight, I stand in front of you as Lucy McBath. A daughter of the Civil Rights Movement, a woman who survived breast cancer twice, and a mother who lost her son to gun violence.

I am reminded that the true strength of this nation does not lie in the measure of our riches or the magnitude of our wealth, but in the strength of our character, in the bonds of our brotherhood, and in the shared future that we must create, together. Thank you.