Alva James-Johnson

Alva James-Johnson: A tragedy not just for one mother

You don't have to be a mother to sense the gravity of Judy Grimes' pain.

The murder of her 19-year-old son by a so-called "friend" should send shivers through the spine of the entire community.

But some of us who are mothers may find the tragedy a bit more heart-wrenching. That's because we can relate to the unconditional love Grimes had for her one and only son. Imagine the torture she endured to bury him.

Grimes, for those of you who may have missed the story, is the mother of Calvin "Teddy" Grimes, who was shot in 2010 by his friend Joshua Leonard and Jarvis Alexander. The shooting occurred after Calvin Grimes gave Leonard and Alexander a ride to Little Joe's liquor store at Third Avenue and Sixth Street.

After the shooting, Grimes survived for 10 months as a paraplegic, which gave him time to recount the story of his friend's betrayal to his mother on his deathbed.

What made this case especially egregious is that Leonard had often eaten at Grimes' home, showered there and even had a key.

On Monday, a jury found Leonard and Alexander guilty of murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of using a firearm to commit a crime. And we're left with three young lives lost in a world of violence that has become too common in this community.

But behind every storm is a silver lining, and it's a mother's love that gives us hope.

On Tuesday, Grimes sat down for an interview with two of my colleagues, reporter Tim Chitwood and videographer Joe Paull. On the video, available on the Ledger-Enquirer website, she vows to continue telling her story to help stop violence in the community.

"I went through a lot, and I realized that this is not about Calvin," she said. "This is about us. It's about the community. It's about what we go through, and it's sad to see black-on-black crime, and we're not doing anything about it. So as a mother, I want to step up and I want to do something."

Grimes is not the only mother concerned about killing in the community. Over the past two years, I've interviewed many women who said they fear for their sons' lives.

Well, maybe it's time for more mothers, like Grimes, to step up and make a difference.

Because, let's face it. We can't afford to lose another child to crime.

Alva James-Johnson, ajjohnson@ledger-enquirer.com

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