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Millie Brown: Comforts moms and families who have lost kids to gun violence

“My greatest accomplishment is being able to touch so many lives, and being able to make mothers smile.”
Illustration of Millie Brown.
Adriana Bellet / for NBC News

"She Thrives: Black Women Making History Today" puts the spotlight on 10 amazing individuals whose achievements transcend generations, occupations and regions. These women — all leaders in their communities — are truly elevating the conversation around black identity, politics and culture. Meet all of our "She Thrives" honorees here.


Millie Brown


Founder, Tears of a Mother’s Cry





Words you live by

“If you can’t do it alone, I’m here.”

Your hero

Oprah Winfrey

How she thrives

For more than a decade, Millie Brown has been working hard to give mothers and families who have lost children to violence a reason to smile.

The Baltimore native founded the nonprofit Tears of a Mother’s Cry in 2007 after working in emergency and operating rooms at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and witnessing firsthand how distraught mothers are when they are told their child has died.

“I felt compelled to start a foundation to help these women,” Brown said, telling NBCBLK that when she launched the group, she was working with about 40 mothers and families.

Now, Brown, who is retired, has helped more than 1,000 mothers in the Baltimore area who have lost children due to shootings and other types of violence. To help them cope with their grief, Brown accompanies the families to court dates and gravesites. Other times, she visits their homes and helps them cook meals, or just sits and talks with them.

“My greatest accomplishment is being able to touch so many lives,” Brown said, “and being able to make mothers smile.”

Brown also hosts events such as park outings and Thanksgiving dinners for the mothers and their families. One of her favorite events in 2018 was a Christmas dinner she held during which her son, artist William Brown, drew portraits of some of the deceased children.

“He has been doing the portraits for the past 11 years and giving them back to the families,” she said.

In addition to being a support system for these mothers, Brown is trying to reach younger kids to help them understand the impact that violence and crime have on their communities. One of her latest ventures is PIC or Parents In the Classroom, a program that encourages parents to visit their children at school and see how they are doing.

She hopes PIC will soon attract the attention of the Baltimore public school system. In the meantime, Brown has big goals for her organization.

“I hope my foundation can one day spread to other states, and I can help families from all over the country,” she said.

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