Amadou Diallo was shot and killed by police in the Bronx 20 years ago. His mother, Kadiatou Diallo, marked the anniversary of his death by talking with scores of teenagers about his life.
"Our heart is heavy but we are joyful, because of your smiles, your hugs, and your wonderful celebration of Amadou's life," Diallo said to the students.
Four police officers shot at Amadou Diallo 41 times, hitting him 19 times as he stood in the entrance of his own home. Cops said they thought he was shooting at them. The 23-year-old, who was from West Africa and came to New York to go to college, didn't have a weapon.
"The tragedy that her son suffered impacts us in a way because we understand that that could have been us and that still could be us," said 15-year-old Darnell Smith, one of the students who showed up to the celebration of Amadou’s life.
The event commemorating the life and death of Amadou was held Saturday at Bronx Community College.
These middle and high schoolers were not alive when Diallo was killed. But his case and the death of others at the hands of police were used to teach the students how to interact with officers.
"Learning about what happened when they are stopped, what movement they should do, they should not be afraid,” said Diallo. “And how they can document the incident and how they can create change through their activism. How to become an activist at a young age."
The students were also told, if they want to become an officer or a judge or an artist, they can achieve their dreams, but they must keep their education a top priority.
"First, start by loving yourself, by encouraging your friends in school not be involved in violence," Diallo said to the children.
"I think that she is a very strong woman for coming out and speaking to everybody about her son,” said 15-year-old Janiya Johnson.
"She took something so heart-breaking and made it strength for a community and the world for all of us to really obtain that message,” said Destiny Fung-Chung, who is also 15-years-old. “And that is powerful."
That's the sort of reaction Ms. Diallo believes will keep her son's memory alive for generations to come.