‘You can’t just stop’: Breonna Taylor’s mom continues to fight for justice

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s 45th annual Michael T Fagin Pan African Conference was rounded off with a powerful and emotional visit from Tamika Palmer, mother of the late Breonna Taylor. 

This session of the conference was hosted by MNSU Director of African American Affairs Kenneth Reid, MNSU Professor of Management Angela Titi Amayah, and Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Henry Morris. 

This session was led by Stacy Wells, Mankato Public schools’ new Communications Director. 

Wells and Palmer’s discussion felt natural — Palmer was in her home with a tribute to her daughter hung on the wall behind her.

When asked about herself, Palmer didn’t have much to say. 

“I’m Breonna Taylor’s mother. That’s all I think I am anyways. But I’ve become so much more in this fight trying to get to justice,” Palmer stated. 

When talking about her late daughter, however, she seemed to perk up. 

“She was just full of life,” Palmer said. “She loved family, loved being around her friends, loved to travel, but loved to be home playing board games and eating with family over anything.” 

At age 26, Breonna was working in two area hospitals as an ER technician and was hoping to go back to school to become a NICU nurse. 

“She was confident,” she said. “You knew she’d get there. She was a planner. If you had something going on, she’d make a plan, that’s just how she was. Everybody loved her, everybody loved to be around her. She had this smile that would just light up a room.” 

Wells and Palmer briefly discussed a new exhibit at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky that honors Breonna. 

“Part of the exhibit has these two flags up with a star for every person who was killed by gun violence. It was unreal.” 

The exhibit features the original Vanity Fair painting of Breonna, done by portrait artist Amy Sherald. 

Wells asked Palmer what she learned in this past year. 

“Oh, it’s all over the place, the things you learn,” she said. 

Palmer touched on corruption, victimization, how much people will strive to find a reason behind the needless violence. 

“To actually be the person whose life has been turned upside down by this is crazy,” she said. “I haven’t had the time to breathe.” 

Wells asked if, in trying to find justice for Breonna and other victims, she’s seen progress she felt good about. 

“Well, we got Breonna’s law passed, which is a ban on no-knock warrants and makes police have to use body cams,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a bullet proof method, but you hope, you know?”

Palmer continued, “There has to be more accountability. We have to keep pushing for a new prosecution because Breonna’s case was never actually presented to a grand jury. We have to continue to make those calls and write those letters and figure out what doors to push on next, or knock down.” 

Both Palmer and Wells acknowledged their shock, a shock that many others felt, about Breonna’s case never getting due process. 

“I’ve never seen something so black and white. Nobody does anything about it. I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t understand,” Palmer said. 

Wells responded, “There’s no accountability. You can’t just stop.” 

“Even when this is over for me, I don’t get to walk away. I’ll continue to push for accountability,” said Palmer. 

“Breonna changed the world. I always knew that she would be great, but never did I imagine to this magnitude,” said Palmer. 

The pair remained quiet, allowing the audience to consider their words. 

“On one hand, I hate that Breonna was the sacrifice, but on the other hand? I don’t know another person that would have been better for the job.” 

“So how do we move on from this in a way that we really truly are honoring Breonna Taylor?” Wells asked. 

“We don’t. We can’t, it’s not done. There’s still so much work to do. We have to keep pushing for those changes. We’re not asking for a special favor, we’re asking to be treated equally,” Palmer said. 

“I don’t feel hopeful, but I’m not tired either. Something will come.” 

A recording of the webinar is available on MNSU’s website and the conference’s Facebook page.

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