Ron Davis uses tragedy to help other families
Four years after the death of his son Jordan, father continues a quest for justice
Ron Davis smiled as he watched the younger attendees of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement’s Rumble Young Man Rumble (RYMR) event. Seminar after seminar, the younger kids sat and listened to their elders speak about the importance of education, self-love, health and well-being.
Davis was impressed by how focused the young men were, and paid especially close attention to the dialogue that stemmed from these conversations.
“When they come to RYMR, they teach them to achieve love and achieve growth as human beings,” Davis said. “If we get these young people and teach them to love themselves first and then you can spread love to other people, I think that’s resounding. A lot of the young men and women out here, they don’t understand life is difficult. If you love yourself and spread love to other people and you give to other people, you can make it in this world.”
Davis saw his son, Jordan Davis, in many of the young men. While observing the young men, Davis had no doubt that if Jordan Davis were here, he would be engaging in the intellectual conversations going on in those groups.
If Jordan Davis were here, the teen — described as a silly, fun-loving, and a leader among his peers — would be able to receive and retain the knowledge in order to remain a successful and productive member of society.
If only he were here.
Nov. 23 marked the fourth year that Jordan Davis had been gone — his life taken by then-45-year-old Michael Dunn outside of a Gate gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, following a dispute over loud music. He was 17 years old.
Although Dunn was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and an additional 90 years for shooting at the three other teens in the car, Davis vowed to continue to tell his son’s story and help other families who have lost loved ones to senseless violence.
Davis and Jordan’s mother, Lucia McBath, started with the documentary 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets directed by Marc Silver. The 90-minute documentary, which aired on HBO last year, features exclusive interviews with Davis and McBath, highlights moments of Jordan Davis’ life, and never-before-seen footage of the trial.
“We did that film to show how black and brown families have to navigate the justice system to get justice for their child,” Davis said. “We were the few, maybe the only ones to get full justice in the courtroom. But we made the hour-and-a-half docudrama to show the other families that you keep fighting for your child. Keep fighting. Navigate through the justice system. It took us a year and a half to completely get justice. It’s not something that’s gonna be urgent to the public, but it’s urgent to you and your family, so you don’t stop fighting for your child or your loved one.”
Now, Davis has joined the fight for other families to receive justice.
“We fight for the Oscar Grants of the world,” Davis said. “We fight for the Michael Browns of the world. Eric Garners of the world. We fight for them because they did not receive justice. The Trayvon Martins of the world whose killers are still at large. The fight is still ongoing because we have to keep the attention to all these loved ones who lost loved ones that don’t get platforms.”
Last month, on the day his son died, Davis, along with friends and family members of Jordan Davis, revisited the Gate gas station where the tragedy occurred. At Davis’ suggestion, a plaque with Jordan Davis’ picture now hangs on the gas station’s wall in remembrance of the slain 17-year-old.
On the outside of the gas station, there was a mini-party to celebrate a life cut short. It was a jovial scene, complete with the sharing of memories and blaring music. Smiles and laughter replaced the hurt and trauma that Davis and others felt four years ago.
Though the pain still lingers from a void that will never be filled, Davis finds time to enjoy life — one his son will never get the chance to.
“The city of Jacksonville is still celebrating Jordan and people around the country are still celebrating Jordan,” Davis said. “People didn’t think we could go back to the gas station, but we did. We did with love.”