AAPF mourns the tragic loss of two dear friends, Vicky Coles-McAdory and Phyllis Croom.
Vicky Coles-McAdory, auntie-mama to India Beaty, was an integral and cherished member of the Say Her Name family. Vicky joined the Say Her Name campaign last year in an effort to bring about justice for her beloved India, who was killed by police officers in Norfolk, VA in February 2016.
In November 2016, Vicky joined 10 other mothers and sisters of Black women killed by the police for our first Say Her Name Family Weekend, an effort to provide a temporary sanctuary for women who had experienced unimaginable pain and to identify opportunities to support them. Mothers, sisters, and aunts traveled from the West Coast, the DMV Area, and the Southwest to meet each other, uplift their loved ones and strategize for action.
After that weekend, Vicky became a steadfast member of our family, joining us for the Women’s March in DC, Say Her Name events in LA, and most recently, our annual Breaking Silence Summer Camp in Poughkeepsie, NY, only a month ago.
Maria Moore, sister of Kayla Moore, said, “Vicky loved to talk about her family, and I loved hearing her stories. She was everyone's auntie-mama, and her big heart had room for all who needed support. And boy did she have a dirty mind! She was uninhibited in her words and knew how to make people think deeply, as well as laugh. I was so blessed to be her friend.”
Even in the face of tragedy, she believed we could find joy.
Vicky frequently said that her purpose was to share India’s story so that no other family would have to experience the same pain that she did. As we mourn her death, we also honor her memory by redoubling our efforts to resist police brutality against Black women. We encourage those who would like to join us in honoring Vicky's life to donate to the GoFundMe page set up by her family in her memory.
Phyllis Croom, a writer and documentary filmmaker based in Baltimore, was a dear friend and longtime member of the AAPF family. Phyllis worked with AAPF for years, traveling with the team domestically and internationally to document our work. She spent most of her time behind the camera, serving as the videographer for events such as Breaking the Silence Oakland, Breaking the Silence New Orleans, and Oklahoma City Day of Accountability. She stepped in front of the camera briefly in February 2016 when she served as a panelist for a Her Dream Deferred webinar entitled “Neglected at Home While Serving Abroad: The Story of Black Women Veterans”.
Most recently, Phyllis wrote and directed "Being Billie: Re-imagining Billie Holiday," a feature length documentary examining Billie Holiday’s life as a Black woman who rose from the margins of society to become one of the most influential musicians of all time, and her subsequent impact on modern culture.
"Phyllis was the ultimate supporter of the African American Policy Forum," said Lisa Gissendaner, longtime friend of AAPF's and lead organizer of Breaking the Silence Ohio. "Her passion for intersectional justice was embodied through her tireless efforts and work on her film, Being Billie, which I watched for the first time at AAPF’s annual Social Justice Writers Retreat in Jamaica. She left this work as a testament and homage to “the Lady” and Black women everywhere."
Memorial services for Phyllis will be held at 3 p.m., on Saturday, September 30, 2017, at Studio 4, 231 Holliday Street in Baltimore, MD.
Information on memorial services for Vicky will be released at a later date.