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Grieving mother finds comfort after seeing her son's name in Cleveland Black Lives Matter mural

'It can’t bring back my son, but it definitely touched me.'

CLEVELAND — When Ricky Smith got the inspiration for the Black Lives Matter mural on East 93rd Street in Cleveland, he knew that was the right location for the artwork.

“We wanted to make a statement," he tells 3News. "We wanted to do it here in the community. Bring Black art to a Black neighborhood and show people that Black lives matter.”

What he didn’t know was the impact it would have on those who came to see it.

“The fact that the city had to block off the street for a week," Smith said. "People came in droves. People came as far as Sandusky from New York. We are proud. Messages of love. I couldn’t imagine it. Honestly.”

It has brought together different families, races and generations, sparking hope and healing.

“I was just so thirsty to come see the artwork," Latasha Dotson said.

Curiosity brought her to the mural, but what she found was something much closer to the heart.

“When I got here, I said, ‘Wait a minute! That’s my baby’s name!’”

Among those honored in the mural is Donell King Jr. The name of her 12-year-old son who she tragically lost in a shooting less than a month ago. A shooting that took place just a few blocks from the mural.

“Can’t walk. Can’t sleep," she said. "I still haven’t had a proper meal since my sons been gone."

For Dotson and her family, the past month has been a nightmare. But at the Black Lives Matter mural, she found a bit of light in a dark place.

“We gave her a voice,” Smith said. “We didn’t do much, but it just shows that Black lives matter.”

Dotson expressed deep gratitude.

“He [Smith] doesn’t know us from Adam to Eve, and for him to have the idea to put my son's name in there, that’s love.”

While the pain and the tears are still fresh from her son's death, Dotson and her family found comfort in knowing that her son is being honored -- that his life matters and always will.

“It can’t bring back my son,” Dotson said. “But it definitely touched me. It’s heart-touching. Really heart-touching.”

Smith is the man behind RAKE, which stands for Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere.


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