Friends and family of Atatiana Jefferson put out a call for support from the community, and the community answered.
Around 500 people joined the inaugural Tay Day Parade downtown yesterday. The parade was held in honor of Jefferson, the 28-year-old Fort Worth woman shot and killed in her mother’s home in 2019 by former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean.
Dean will go to trial in November on a murder charge, over two years later. The long delay has drawn criticism and ire from most of the Fort Worth community.
The parade yesterday, however, celebrated Jefferson’s life and the joy she brought to those who knew her.
“Instead of focusing on the negative and tragedy, we want to focus on the light and the love and the legacy of my sister,” said Ashley Carr, Jefferson’s older sister.
Carr described her sister as “amazing” and “very knowledgeable, like a living life hack.”
Carr said Jefferson would share her wisdom and keep her updated on current events and politics, often via phone calls that would stretch late into the night.
“I just miss those conversations,” Carr said.
Other family members described Jefferson as a woman who loved to help others. She had plans to enter the medical profession and perhaps become a doctor.
“She never got the chance to do that,” said Crystal Hollins, Jefferson’s cousin. “She was a beautiful woman. She had so much grace to her.”
The parade featured three-wheeled car clubs, horses, dance groups, social justice organizations, and lots of music. Young women in sparkling costumes danced through the streets led by coaches and parents.
Jada Turner, director of the Fort Worth Royalettes, oversaw her group of girls, shouting out instructions as they kicked their legs and snapped their bodies and jumped to the beat.
“We’re teaching our girls about what’s going on in our community,” Turner said. “We want them to hear this story and know the police can do things like this. These girls are young. They still have hope and faith in the future. They didn’t know police could have a bad side.”
Local social justice groups also turned out.
“We want to see her get justice,” said Ashton Smith, who walked alongside other members of Enough Is Enough, a group that strives to uplift the Black community and combat systemic racism. “That hasn’t happened. It’s been enough time, and she hasn’t gotten justice.”
“It’s been enough time” has been a common refrain over the past two years.
Dean has been out on bond and did not have a trial date until September 2021.
“We’ve been walking through it,” said Rulanda Taylor, of Farmers Branch.
Taylor is one of many family members who attended the parade.
“With the trial coming up, hopefully people have not forgotten about her,” she said. “This has been a long time coming.”