News & Community

Cameo: Millie Brown

Founder of A Mother’s Cry

What is A Mother’s Cry? A Mother’s Cry is a foundation. We come together several times a year. Mother’s who have lost their children to violence. And sometimes there are meet and greets because, each event, there are always more mothers that join. We may go to court with mothers. We may take mothers out. We may give them counseling. So there’s a number of things we do for these mothers to try to give them as much support as we possibly can.

How and why did you found the organization? I founded it in 2007, working in The Johns Hopkins [Hospital] operating room, seeing young people come in several times a week, shot and stabbed, and not making it to the recovery room, meaning having to take a 16-, a 15-, a 20-year-old to the morgue after having been shot and stabbed. It was placed on my heart after seeing this one child come in who looked at me as if to say, ‘Please don’t let me die.’ And there was nothing that I could do because my position at Johns Hopkins operating room was an operating room associate, meaning that I was person who would go in and I would take care of cleaning the rooms, preparing the rooms for another surgery. So there was nothing I could do when this young man looked at me to help him. I had to take him to the morgue. I had to go out to tell his mother, and the cry that I heard from his mother that day was something that I will never forget. And it was placed on my heart to start the foundation A Mother’s Cry.

Do you know people who have been personally affected by the violence? Well, I do because I took a survey back in 2007 with the employees at Johns Hopkins and in 2007 there were over 50 employees who had lost their children to gun violence. So these were women I worked with daily. And the number has grown tremendously within the last seven years, up until today. So yes, I work very closely with an ER nurse—because I’m no longer in the OR, I’m in the ER—and her son was shot in the head, taken away from her. It’s very, very sad.

Why A Mother’s Cry, not a Father’s Cry or a Sister’s Cry? Well, there is a bond. I am a mother, and I carried my son for nine months. So that’s the bond right there: carrying this child. And then, once you have the child, nurturing this child. It’s totally different between a mother and a son as opposed to a father and a daughter. I think the fathers are closer to the daughters, the daughters are closer to the dads, as opposed to the sons being closer to the mothers.

And, usually, it’s still the mothers who are the primary caregivers? Yes, Mmhmm. A lot of mothers have other children and I have one mother who had four sons, and three of her four sons were killed six weeks a part. So this particular mother had to get counseling to try and save this other son, but what happened with this other son was, he was very angry that they took his three brothers away from him, and he acted out. And he wanted to go and getting himself into trouble. And this particularly mother, what would happen was, if she didn’t get counseling, she would probably be in some type of institution, you know? And what I want to do—I know I can never give them their children back—but I want to try to give them something just to make them smile or laugh or just give them something to let them know that I’m so sorry that this happened to you, but I’m here for you. And I think that more people in the world need to reach out to families, because, again this is such an epidemic. There are so many families out there losing their children daily, and we need to reach out to them just to let them know we care. There’s nothing wrong with smiling at your neighbor or saying, ‘How was your day?’ Or maybe even go over and knock on their door and say, ‘Are you okay? I just stopped over to check on you. Is there anything I can do for you?’ That goes a long way, because you never know what a person is going through or what they have gone through.

I understand that A Mother’s Cry went to offer support to the families of the Newtown school shootings. How’d that come about? Jimmy’s Seafood, which is located in Dundalk on Holabird Avenue, donated a bus and a group of mothers and a few males, we boarded a bus. We went to Newtown, Connecticut. It was an awesome ride but when we got there, you could just feel it in the air. It was something that I will never forget. There were so many people. There were so many flowers. There were so many teddy bears. And we tried to go up to the school, but it was blocked off. It was just so sad, and all you could do was just reach out and just hug and cry and let people know, ‘I’m so sorry that this happened.’ And that was something that I’ll never forget. And the sad thing about that: Since that incident in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been more school shootings. There’s been so many school shootings. So many of our children are just losing their lives, senselessly. And I don’t understand how or why this continues to happen. I just wish that there was more that I could do.

You host several events every year and one is coming up this month, right? I have an event coming up May 10 at Johns Hopkins Turner Auditorium, which is at Monument and Rutland from 1-4 p.m. It’s a Mother’s Day event to have singers, to have gifts, to have a nice meal for these families, and to let them know that we care about them during this time. Mother’s Day and Christmas and the children’s birthdays and death anniversaries are the times when the parents usually sit down and they start going through that emotional thing, missing the children, asking why, crying and all. And those are the times that A Mother’s Cry needs to be there for them. I had a nurse approach me yesterday and she said, ‘Miss Millie, April 8 is my son’s anniversary,’ so I’m going to take off from work to go to the cemetery with her, which is what I usually do. I go to cemeteries all the time. And I may take her out to dinner or something to kind of get her mind off it, but I know that once I leave her and she goes home, she’s going to sit there, she’s going to think, she’s going to cry. And again, I go back to wishing and praying that more people would come together and reach out to these families, because you never know when it’s going to hit home. You never say, ‘Oh, that’s not going to happen to me,’ because there are so many people who have said that, and it has happened to them.

Can anybody come to the Mother’s Day event? Anyone can come to Johns Hopkins to come to the event and just mingle with other mothers, get to know that you’re not the only mother that is going through this. And just come out and have a good time. After the Mother’s Day event, I’m going to go into my reunion. I have a reunion at Druid Hill Park. The reunion is in August. This reunion is to have mother’s come from all around the world, come to the park. We meet. We greet. We eat. We have fun. We laugh. After the reunion, we’re going to have our walk in September. After our walk in September, we’re going to have our Christmas event. So, it’s pretty busy. I also give out hams and turkeys in November. Giant is one of my sponsors. And this is all for mothers and families that have lost families to violence. Now, if they haven’t lost a child to gun violence. If they’ve lost a child, we still want to reach out to them and give them some love and some support.

So it’s anyone whose lost a child, really. Yep. Do you know how we could change the world if there were more people who wanted to do what I’m doing? We could just change so many lives.

It’s true. I don’t know why more people don’t do things like this. It just seems like a very simple, but very profound, thing to do. Right. It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind. My mother once told me when I was young, she said, ‘Millie, kindness goes a long way,’ and it’s true. It really does. My goal is to one day be able to go to different states around the world to bring together all the mothers who have been affected by violence or that have lost a child, and one day stand at the Mall in Washington, D.C. so the world can see how many people have been affected by this epidemic. Before I leave this earth, that’s what I want to do.

Well, I hope you do. I believe I can. God has brought me a long way, and I think that’s what he wants me to do, and I’m going to do it.