Updated as of 2/24/2022 at 10:40 a.m. ET:
On a day that the Georgia legislature proclaimed as “Ahmaud Arbery Day”, the mother of the Black man was murdered in a 2020 hate crime, announced on Wednesday that she’ll establish a scholarship that gives a total of $18,000 to students at his former Georgia high school.
Arbery was killed in Brunswick, Georgia, in 2020 by Gregory and Travis McMichael and William “Roddy” Bryan. His killers were convicted of murder in a state trial last year and on federal hate crimes charges this week, virtually ensuring they’ll spend life in prison.
But Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, has turned her attention to how best to remember her son’s life. Arbery was a standout student-athlete at Brunswick High School, so now Cooper-Jones plans to give six, $3,000 awards to students at the school on May 8, which would have been Arbery’s 28th birthday.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
On the second anniversary of her son’s death, Wanda Cooper-Jones wants the world to think of one thing: Change.
“Laws changing is just the beginning,” she said. “Next we must change the minds and the perception of Black men in this country.”
Cooper-Jones established The Ahmaud Arbery Foundation in hopes no other family will endure the pain hers has since Ahmaud, then 25, was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020.
Arbery’s murder happened as he jogged through a subdivision not far from his own home. The McMichaels and Bryan left their homes, chased him in pickup trucks, finally cornering him before Travis McMichael shot and killed him. The three claimed they suspected Arbery of a crime and were trying to make a citizens arrest, a claim that fell apart during their murder trial.
At their hate crimes trial, it was established that all three men routinely used racist language in reference to Black people for years before they chased and killed Arbery.
The Georgia General Assembly passed a resolution earlier this month designating Feb. 23, the date of Arbery’s death, as a day “the State of Georgia honors one of its most distinguished citizens.”
The resolution also noted that as a result of Arbery’s murder, the state had repealed a citizen’s arrest law dating back to the 1800s as well as the passing of the Georgia Hate Crimes Act, which calls for harsher penalties for a convicted offender if it’s determined they targeted a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability.