Venida Browder, the mother of the late Kalief Browder died Friday (Oct. 16) due to complications from a heart attack, her lawyer Paul Prestia said. She was 63 years old.
“She was a woman of incredible grace and compassion who tirelessly fought for justice for her son Kalief and who championed the civil rights of others in our city,” Prestia said.
Ms. Browder, who died at St. Barnabas hospital in The Bronx, was thrusted into the public eye after her son, then 22, hung himself using an air conditioning cord in June 2015. Kalief Browder’s story merited national attention after he was returning home from a party in The Bronx in May 2010 and was jailed for stealing a bookbag.
His family couldn’t post the bail, and at just 16 years old, Kalief spent three yeas in prison enduring numerous beatings. Of the three years, 800 of those days were in solitary confinement. Stark footage from Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th, shows Kalief being slammed to the ground by a prison guard at the controversial Rikers Island while being escorted to the shower.
Eventually the charges were dropped and Kalief later enrolled in a community college, but suffered bouts of depression. The night before his suicide, Kalief told his mother “Ma, I can’t take it anymore.”
Since Kalief’s death, Ms. Browder become a spokesperson for her son. “She was a woman of incredible grace and compassion who tirelessly fought for justice for her son Kalief and who championed the civil rights of others in our city,” her lawyer said.