Samaria Rice gives social justice lecture

Mary Scherer, The Carroll News

Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was fatally shot by police on the mistaken assumption that he was carrying a real gun, came to speak to John Carroll University students, staff and community members on Jan. 17 as part of John Carroll University’s Martin Luther King Day celebration.

After the loss of her “all-American kid” to police violence, Rice has dedicated her life to being a civil rights activist. Rice recounted how Tamir was a normal child, a normal boy. She never favored his interest in guns or violence; however, she rationalized it by saying, “boys will be boys.”

On the day he died, Tamir was playing with a water gun. Someone reported that a boy was playing outside with a gun, the person who reported it thought he was holding a toy, but was not sure. When the call was made to the police, the fact about the toy was left out.

Tamir was shot within seconds of police arrival.

After Tamir’s death, Rice noted that she had little time to grieve. It seemed like the community and world was waiting for her voice on the matter, and she had to research civil rights to prepare for her sudden new role as a spokesperson and social justice propagator.

Since starting the Tamir Rice Foundation in 2016, Rice has found herself at countless speaking engagements, speaking out against violence, supporting those who have gone through similar trauma, running numerous fundraisers, holding community wide events and holding a commemorative sweet 16 party for her son.

The energy and enthusiasm Rice exudes for her work is palpable, and though she said “this was not [her] plan,” the way she held the audience’s attention and generated laughter and hope was tangible in the room throughout the night.

She acknowledged that she is “proud of [herself],” because it was not easy to go through a trauma like the death of her son, but she is proud to give him a voice and a face.

She is now facing one of her largest endeavors: to create a space so that children aged 10-19 year olds have a safe place to go after school. Rice believes that community should be nurturing and that we should do “whatever it takes to come together as one.” She has purchased a building to serve as the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Center, which she proudly showed off in the slideshow she prepared for the event.

Though the site has beautiful bones, she said, it has a long way to go before it will be ready for the children to come and play. The foundation is always looking for volunteers to help run activities, plan events and help to coordinate fundraisers. Rice cheekily mentioned that her current John Carroll student intern will be gone soon, and she will need a replacement. Her current intern, Naudia Loftis, a junior at John Carroll and Arrupe Scholar, manages her social media, and while introducing Rice stated that she is “one of the realest people.” To get involved go to and click on the “contact us” link.

CORRECTION: In the third paragraph of the story “Samaria Rice gives social justice lecture” it was mistakenly asserted that Tamir Rice was running with a water gun when the authorities were called. According to NBC, Rice was running with a pellet gun. This pellet gun is what caused neighbors concern and police action.