The journalist and author Stacey Patton teaches digital journalism at Morgan State University, a historically Black institution in Baltimore. Her Facebook timeline is often populated by raucous debates and her cooking photos. But today (May 16) she posted the final project of one of her students, a video called ”Pain After Murder in ‘Bodymore.’” Junior Bre’Aira Johnson’s video makes a simple yet profound point: Just because someone is gunned down in a place where homicide is common doesn’t mean that media should treat victims as statistics. Johnson came to this conclusion after her uncle Tyrone M. Servance Jr. was shot to death in front of the convenience store he co-owned with his wife, Michelle. In her voiceover Johnson notes that a newspaper covered her uncle’s shooting but did not name him or contact his family. He was just one of three people killed in the city that day. The video also includes an interview with a sister of Jaquan D. Holt, a young Black Baltimorean fatally shot 20 times.*
On Sunday (May 13), Johnson herself died. According to Patton, the 22-year-old was in a fatal car accident. The professor said that she hadn’t yet graded Johnson’s final project.
Given that the student and blogger set out to tell a story about the impact of loss, we wanted to share her work. Watch it below and share it widely.
*Post has been updated since publication to include the other victim in the video, Jaquan D. Holt.