In October of 2019, a courtroom scene was viewed around the world as 18-year old Brandt Jean stood in the middle of the courtroom and hugged Amber Guyger, a woman who was sentenced to ten years in prison for the murder of Brandt’s brother Botham Jean. This hug received many raised eyebrows as many people revealed their state of shock of that rare moment. As stated by News One Writer Bruce C.T. Wright, “It’s not every day you see such acts of compassion in a court of law, especially when Black people are the victims.”
To set everything straight about the issue, Brandt Jean explained his motives in an article titled ‘I Truly Forgive Her’: Botham Jean’s Brother Defends Hugging Amber Guyger In Court when he states, “That was just my gesture, my decision of letting her know that I truly forgive her.” When it comes to losing someone you love, the only thing harder than coping with the loss, is forgiving the person who is the reason for your loss in the first place. As challenging as forgiveness may be, it is a necessary element that one person must be able to do. Many people like to think that forgiveness is something you do for the other person, but the truth is that forgiveness is mainly about what you do for yourself. One person whom I spoke with recently, knows exactly from experience what that means. His name is Herman Davis. Davis is a CEO of an organizational movement referred to as Peace and Love. Peace and Love is about promoting positivity of world peace and nonviolence. Their goals involve creating greater awareness of violence in communities and the impact it has on families and communities. They even have goals that involve creating safe havens referred to as Peace Pads in underserved communities that will provide a safe space and place designed by the youth for the youth. As beautiful and incredible as this movement may be, its origin story of how it all started was anything but. The origin story of the Peace and Love movement began as a story of pain and loss.
It all started one fateful day when Herman Davis found out his sister at 25 years old was murdered by the hands of her abusive lover. When he was first told the news, it was very hard for Davis to believe that she was gone, but once he had spoken to a familiar face, that’s when it all became real, that she was gone. In a recent interview that took place at Community College of Philadelphia Main Campus, I asked Mr. Davis if he felt at all responsible for her death. He explained that the only thing he felt guilty for was not being able to protect her when he states, “I wish that I could have protected my sister, defended my sister, so I don’t blame myself for her death.” Dealing with the death of his sister was a difficult process for Davis to experience, as it would be for anybody else. For example, it was shortly after his sister’s death that Davis was told not to express his emotions.
Davis was able to explain that at the time of his sister’s death, it was important for him to show strength and be strong for the people around him. At that time, it meant that you couldn’t show any sign of vulnerability in the presence of others when he states, “You can’t cry, you have to be strong for your mom and your sisters.” This concealment would not only be at home, but it would also continue in other places like school as well. Davis explained that while he was in school, he never once told anybody about the problems going on in his life, and he was always able to mask his pain through simple jokes and laughter. Also, Davis used to never go to treatments like therapy, because he used to think that going there was an act of weakness. For a long time, it took Davis a while to forgive the man who killed his sister, but after visiting him in prison, he realized that the only person he needed to forgive was himself. Similar to Brandt Jean, Herman was able to explain how forgiveness was able to release a heavy weight off his shoulders when he stated, “…me not forgiving him had made me hold on to so much anger, resentment, and frustration, but when I realized I had to forgive him, that anger and frustration was pretty much gone.”
This propelled me to ask Mr. Davis on whether forgiveness was his inspiration for the Peace and Love movement, and this is what he had to say, “I think that a lot of us hold on to so much anger that we actually pass that anger down to our friends, family, our children, and that anger could hang around for generations, and that anger is toxic. It’s self-toxic, it’s damaging to self, so if we could learn how to forgive and not be angry, not saying that you have to like what the person did, but if you could let go of the anger, um, and that could be contagious, but if people could learn how to forgive, I think that would change the light of a lot of stuff that’s going on.” Being able to forgive himself, was just part of the transformation that Herman Davis was able to receive throughout his journey of losing his sister. I asked Mr. Davis about any other things that he learned about himself, and he explained that he learned how to be free in expressing himself and his feelings when he states, “I learned how to have confidence in myself and I was able to learn how to be comfortable with myself. It didn’t happen overnight, it happened in my late 20s.”
This newfound freedom in expressing oneself has become something in which Herman Davis has been able to spread among hundreds of individuals he meets throughout his program, and it has received such amazing feedback. When being asked about the feedback that he receives from people for his movement, this is what he had to say, “It’s dope because it’s funny how people look at you because you don’t see or I don’t see what others see in me, it’s very dope to get people to see how you’re doing things and they get my intention and I like to hear that I’ve actually had impact on somebody’s life. I’ve talked to a lot of people, you can say hundreds, you can say thousands of people, but if I’m able to affect one person, that’s dope, you know what I mean? Because that one person could be that one domino that affects all the other people, you know what I mean?”. Hearing about the many lives that have been changed forever because of this movement had put a warmness in my heart. It reminded me of the small movement that I created a few years ago.It’s a simple movement that involves telling people that they matter, and they are important. I’ve touched many lives and have impacted plenty just by saying two simple words. When it comes to motivation, Davis is inspired by his sister’s personality to keep doing what he does for people when he stated how his sister’s energy could light up a room and she had a strong love for family. Finally, when Herman Davis was asked about what he wanted people to mainly take away from his movement, he replied by stating the following, “The main thing I want people to take away from the movement Peace and Love, is exactly that. Everybody has a right to be angry, everybody has a right to be upset, everybody has a right not to like something, but if we could learn how to communicate better with each other, be more loving to each other, and be more peaceful to each other, then that is the take away I want people to get from Peace and Love.”
In conclusion, heartbreak and tragedy are some of the most natural concepts a person will go through in their lifetime. We can’t control whether we face them, but we can control how we deal with them. While some people choose to deal with it through vengeance and bitterness, other people deal with it through addiction, depression, and self- destruction. Then there are those like Brandt Jean and Herman Davis who choose to handle it in a more positive outlet, which is using forgiveness.
Forgiveness for many, is one of the hardest pills to swallow, but for every individual on earth, it’s one of the most vital concepts to digest. The reason why is because even if you don’t like the flavor of the way it tastes, the overall results of it will make you healthier, stronger, and it will also help make you a better person. It certainly made Herman Davis a better person by making him a more open person that uses his story to inspire people to overcome their struggles of forgiveness. Therefore, if there is anything, I want you to take away from this story, is that healing yourself in the face of tragedy may be a long difficult process, but it’s not an impossible one.
All it takes is having an open mind, an open heart, and an open perspective of being able to see things through the lens of peace and love. All it takes is some self-strength to let yourself be open to talking about your feelings and emotions, and all it takes is the power of forgiveness to truly let go of the pain, anger, and resentment that hold us back from being able to move on from the past. After interviewing Mr. Herman Davis, I’m a believer that the power of peace and love should be a vital virtue for every individual to hold on to in order to not only bring peace and love to their lives, but to also bring that same energy into other people’s lives. I hope that after reading this article, you’ll feel the same way as well.