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The Look that Gave Birth to A Mother’s Cry

Ursula V. Battle | 4/28/2017, 6 a.m. | Updated on 4/27/2017, 2:14 p.m.
Millie Brown is the Founder of A Mother’s Cry, which supports mothers who have lost their children to violence.
Millie Brown is the Founder of A Mother’s Cry, which supports mothers who have lost their children to violence. Brown is holding a flyer showing photos of some of the mothers’ children. Photos by Ursula Battle

This is Part One of a Three-Part Series on A Mother’s Cry. Founded by Millie Brown “A Mother’s Cry” is a foundation that supports mothers who have lost their children to violence.

Television shows such as Homicide: Life On The Streets and The Wire often depict the violence that has claimed so many lives in Baltimore. But, for Millie Brown, the impact of the violence she has seen comes unscripted. There are no actors and there are no production crews. The young men and women she saw coming though the ER of Johns Hopkins Hospital suffering from fatal gunshot wounds and other injuries were real people…and so were the bereaved families they left behind.

“As an Operating Room Associate at Johns Hopkins Hospital, my job was preparing the rooms for surgery,” recalled Brown who retired last year. “I worked in the cardiac and trauma room. So often, young people would come in shot or stabbed and would have to be taken to the morgue. I have seen so many children die.”

However, one day, the eyes of a young man who came through Brown’s area would forever change her life.

“They brought in a young man who had 30 gunshot wounds,” said Brown. “I remember him having $20 dollar bills in his pocket. They stopped him in front of me, and he looked at me as if to say, ‘please don't let me die’. There was nothing I could do for him. The young man expired, and I had to take him to the morgue.”

She continued, “The young man’s family was there at the hospital. I held the mother’s hand when she was told her son had passed, and she wept. I will never forget that cry. I went home and told my son about it, and he said ‘what you heard was a mother’s cry’. I wanted to stop mothers from crying, and asked God what can I do? I can’t give them their children back, but let me do something to make them smile.”

And with that, Brown says God gave her the vision to found A Mother’s Cry. Brown started the foundation in 2007. A Mother’s Cry supports mothers who have lost their children to violence.

“The goal is to get their minds off the tragedy and put it someplace else,” said Brown. “If I can get one mother to do that, I know I have done what God hascalled me to do. After the cameras have stopped, and after the family members and friends go home, oftentimes, there is no one there for these mothers. I call them to let them know I am there for them, love them, and if they need me, to call me. I used to have three phones that stayed on 24-hour-a-day.”

“I started having events,” added Brown. “I would have events on Mother's Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays to get the mothers together to let them know they are not alone. I started asking for donations to give to the mothers. I have never asked for money – only gifts, which have come in a variety of forms, including manicures, pedicures, gift cards, dinner, appliances, jewelry, flat screen televisions, and tickets to shows.”