DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Botham Jean.
It is a name that Dallas has vowed to never forget.
It is also a loss from which his family will never fully recover.
A pain that hit especially hard on Tuesday, September 29.
“One of the first things I did was check social media,” says his mother Allison Jean. “I saw all of the birthday greetings to him. So it’s been a very emotional day, for me.”
Botham should have turned 29 on Tuesday.
He was shot was killed in his own apartment on September 6, 2018, by a Dallas police officer who would later tell jurors that she mistook his apartment for her own and fired thinking he was an intruder.
Amber Guyger was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“By the Grace of God,” says Jean, when asked how she keeps standing, “it is only by the grace of God.
If you knew Botham, his energy was infectious… so I believe a lot of his energy, drive, keeps me going.”
The family who set the standard for grace and forgiveness– opting for activism instead of rage. And yet, they are disheartened that there seems always to be a new hashtag.
“When I see the events of this year– Ahmaud Aubury, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others– all over over again. My heart just aches.”
Still, she says the diversity in the protests and the sustained demonstrations across the country gives her hope.
“I have a little hope that we are not only going to be talking, we’re not only going to be protesting, but we are going to be making some systemic changes through legislation.”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson proclaimed September 29 this year as “Be Like Bo Day” in the city.
But Jean says the family was not contacted beforehand nor invited to participate in the city hall event today announcing the proclamation.
“While the effort is appreciated, the manner in which it was done, was really not in line with Botham’s values,” says Jean. “And that one major value that was missing is that of respect.”
Politics aside, Jean still has great affection for the people of Dallas. She says she wanted to celebrate his birthday here– even if it means being in quarantine for 14 days when she returns to St. Lucia.
The family also wanted to be present for the airing of a documentary about Botham’s life, “The Ballad of Botham,” presented at The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Tuesday evening in downtown.
“I want to tell the people of Dallas, that I love them in just the same way that Botham loved Dallas. I can see that the people of Dallas have reached out to my family in a beautiful way and I’m really thankful for that.”