Mothers who have lost children to police brutality, including many in the Chicago area, were honored on Friday night during a virtual, nationwide tribute.
"Rise Up and Stand - A Tribute to Our Mothers," a 60-minute celebration of "mothers who have been impacted by unjust police violence," brought together hundreds who are feeling similar pain.
"We call it an unwanted sorority where mothers all over the country are joined together to talk about their stories," said Alice Howell, who lost her 17-year-old grandson Justus Howell when he was fatally shot by a police officer in suburban Zion in 2015.
Cynthia Lane, whose 19-year-old son Roshad McIntosh was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in 2014, says not a day goes by that she doesn't think about McIntosh.
"It's like an emptiness in me," Lane said. "But I try to get by."
In Justus Howell's case, the officer who shot the teen walked free, according to Howell's family. The family lost a civil lawsuit and has since reopened the case.
"It's a big healing process and to do something to honor the mother, let them know they’re still there," Alice Howell said. "Fighting, breathing, mourning. They're going through a lot."
Mothers and supporters came together to not only remember those close to them, but to also push for new legislation and social justice in the U.S.
"You can march and protest, but to facilitate real change, there has to be a change in the laws," said civil rights attorney Andrew M. Stroth.
Among those who brought star power to the cause were singers Macy Gray and Andra Day, basketball players and Chicago Rev. Michael Pfleger, the pastor of Saint Sabina Catholic Church.
Friday night's event kicked off the organization's first-ever digital memorial, which will include new stories every week through Mother's Day.