The congregation of the Ebenezer Baptist Church opened their arms Sunday morning to Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, the parents of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson. Kendrick Johnson’s body was found rolled up in a gym mat at his Valdosta High School in January.
Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office investigators have officially ruled the young man’s death an accident, but the Johnsons don’t believe that to be true.
Since the boy’s death, the family through their attorneys have fought to get video tapes of the school released, hoping for answers to how their son died and to validate their belief that someone killed their son.
The Johnsons are bringing that fight to the Capitol this week. But before the big rally on Wednesday, the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church hosted the family at a morning service Sunday.
Warnock introduced the parents, their lawyers and Kendrick Johnson’s grandmother before turning the microphone over to Benjamin Crump, the attorney who represented Trayvon Martin’s family and is now working with the Johnsons.
After several minutes explaining the case to the congregation, Crump pleaded for understanding. “They haven’t asked for anything extraordinary, they just want to know what happened to their child. Wouldn’t you want to know?” questioned Crump.
The couple was later surrounded by the church deacons and congregation as Warnock prayed for the family.
After the service, Warnock, the Johnson family and their attorneys laid out their plans for Wednesday’s “Who Killed K.J.” Rally.
“We are not making any accusations we are not making any recriminations, we are calling for an investigation,” said Warnock.
Despite the claims, the reverend still slipped in a few jabs. “Had a decent investigation happened in the first place, none of us would be standing here,” said Warnock.
As for Kendrick Johnson’s parents, the pain and stress this ordeal has place on their shoulders was obviously evident.
“Every parent deserves to know what happened to their child, when something happens to their child,” said Kenneth Johnson.
His wife, Jacquelyn Johnson explained, like Kendrick Johnson’s siblings, they too are just trying to move forward with each passing day. “One day at a time. One day may be a bad day, and the next day [we’re] talking about memories of Kendrick,” said Jacquelyn Johnson.
Even though several agencies are already looking into various aspects of the mysterious death of Kendrick Johnson, his family is not quite satisfied with the response.
They are hoping Wednesday’s rally on the steps of the Capitol will draw more national attention to the situation.
Warnock hopes so too; he says this is a potential black eye for the state of Georgia and one that it cannot afford to have. “We must send forth a clear message that this is indeed the ‘New South’ and not the ‘Old South,'” said Warnock.
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