Four of Samuel DuBose’s children tumbled into DaShonda Reid’s car on a recent summer evening. They were hurrying to boxing lessons.
As she climbed into the driver’s seat, a few inches from a dashboard placard bearing his picture and the words, “Justice for Samuel DuBose,” Reid looked back over her left shoulder and said, “This tragedy is not going to stop his children from being successful. If anything, it’s fuel that will help make them successful.”
They are following her example. They will thrive, not merely survive. They will be strong mentally and physically.
One year ago on July 19, Reid lost the man she’d been with off and on for 16 years and who, just two days before his death, had proposed and given her an engagement ring. She is the mother of three of his children and stepmother, DuBose had said, to three more of his children. She also took in another of DuBose’s children whose mother died of cancer in 2014.
A total of 13 children lost their father, a man they say was loving and attentive, a firm and effective disciplinarian, yet blessed with a sense of humor that could defuse the most stressed situation.
In a time of heightened national racial tensions and inflamed police-community relations, Samuel DuBose has taken a place in the litany of names of African Americans who have died at the hands of police.
Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Michael Brown Jr. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. Philando Castile. These are just some of the better-known names. The list consists of hundreds more.
Reid and the children know about those cases. They know all the details of their father’s death. He was pulled over for a missing front license plate on a Mount Auburn street on a Sunday evening. The stop escalated to the point where a white University of Cincinnati police officer, Ray Tensing, shot the unarmed black man at point blank range. After viewing the officer’s body camera footage, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Tensing would face a murder charge. The trial for Tensing, who was fired by the University of Cincinnati, will begin Oct. 24.
“They know about the killer,” Reid said on a recent afternoon from her living room of the four-bedroom house on a quiet suburban street. “They know when the trial is. They know everything that happened. We don’t and won’t sugarcoat it.”
They know how this man they all loved and mourn had his character attacked posthumously. His lengthy rap sheet was reported. He’d been charged almost 100 times since the late 1980s for minor offenses, almost all of them traffic-related. He used to sell and still used marijuana; a small amount was found in his car at the time of his death. His driver’s license had been revoked.
Yet they don’t dwell on the negative or their loss. Those things are out of their control. Paralysis is not an option. They look forward and keep moving. Besides boxing, the children swim and are involved in activities at school, including student government. She is teaching her children to be proud of their black American culture and said, “We are not ashamed of the melanin in our skin, even if some people are frightened by it.”
DuBose comes to Reid in her dreams, she said, and gives her nonverbal messages. His spirit fills the house, the way his music and scent still do. It is that of his cologne, a brand called Thallium, mixed with marijuana.
Just 43, DuBose was there one moment and dead the next. He did not fade away from a long disease.
The night of his death, Reid slept on his side of the bed. She’d taken laundry that he’d worn from a basket and surrounded herself in bed with his white T-shirts. “Surreal, a lot of crying, a lot of family support,” Reid said when asked to recount the first few days and weeks.
“Flesh is just that. Your spirit still lives. His spirit is within us and everywhere in this house. His soul is everywhere. It did not go into his grave.”
They did not sit still. Reid took the children to Kings Island — an amusement park — less than a week after his death. She said she had to get the children out of the house and away from the TV. “His murder just kept popping up all the time everywhere,” Reid said. She works for a company in new business development. She has an associate’s degree in paralegal studies.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, the University of Cincinnati announced it had reached a financial settlement with the family. In May, a judge decided how the $4.8 million settlement would be split among family members. Each of DuBose’s children will receive $218,000.
Teaila Williamston, 17, is DuBose’s daughter by another woman, who died in 2014. Teaila played one of his songs at the Black Lives Matter Cincinnati rally July 10. In Global Warming, a song about the “genocide of black men in American society,” the girl said, her father eerily predicts his death in a police stop gone bad.
Teaila and her sister, Chyna DuBose-Reid, 15, have recorded music together. Teaila raps. Chyna can rap but is gifted with a singing voice. They wrote and recorded a song together called Sparks, a love song that includes the lyric, “We got a future, I ain’t worried.”
Source: USA TODAY | Mark Curnutte