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'This is for you': The story behind viral photo of mom and baby during protest

The 24-year-old mom wanted to show her son what it looks like to have people fighting for your future.
/ Source: TODAY

As the mother of an infant, D'Asia Hervey was hesitant to attend the protests taking place in Chicago, Illinois, last weekend following the death of George Floyd.

But the 24-year-old says her mother insisted she attend and bring her 7-month-old son, Matthew.

When Hervey saw the scene on the streets of her city, she was overcome with emotion.

"It was beautiful," Hervey told TODAY Parents. "When I actually went and saw my own generation fighting, it was amazing."

In an emotional series of images captured by photographer Amber Green, Hervey sits in the back seat of her mother's car and cries as she holds Matthew on her lap, letting him stare, wide-eyed, at the scene around him.

"I told him to look at what everybody was doing for his future," said Hervey. "And then, my mom was like, 'Look, Matthew, this is for you — this is so people can understand that you are not a threat when you're walking down the street.'"

Hervey's mom, Stephanie Woodall-Wilson, says she was a victim of police brutality in the '90s, when she was "attacked by three cops for just driving by them" after dropping her children off at their babysitter.

Woodall-Wilson grew up in a predominately black neighborhood in Chicago, and says she didn't have friends of other ethnicities growing up. She feels inspired that her own children are part of a generation that seems to love and accept everyone and wants to make positive change in the world.

As a mom of four adults — three sons and one daughter — Woodall-Wilson says she is always fearful for her children's safety due to her own life experiences.

"I wanted my daughter to see what it's like for mothers with sons — to worry about them all the time, regardless of their age," said Woodall-Wilson, adding that she also attended the protest because she believes it's time for her own generation to step aside and allow today's youth to make their own progress when it comes to issues like social justice.

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"I was walking in the protest yelling at the young people," said Woodall-Wilson. "'Run for office! Change those old seats! Change those old ideas! Change that old money! Get out there, get your education and run for congress, because if you don't you're going to have old, traditional ways trying to mold a country that is now flourishing with new ideas.'"

Stephanie Woodall-Wilson with her daughter, D'Asia Hervey, and her grandson, Matthew.
Stephanie Woodall-Wilson with her daughter, D'Asia Hervey, and her grandson, Matthew.Stephanie Woodall-Wilson

Green, the photographer who captured images of Hervey with her son, says she snapped the photos because when she saw Hervey holding Matthew and weeping, she immediately identified with the emotions the young mother was feeling.

"I have an 11-year-old son," said Green. "As a mother of a black boy, I will have to have the conversation about when he will be approached or pulled over by the police. I will tell him to do whatever the police tell him to do just to come back home alive."

Green shared the photos on Facebook, saying, "I don't know this woman, yet our tears speak the same language of anger, pain and yes, fear for our sons ... as the car started driving off, me and the mother locked eyes, gave each other the nod of the head and we both put our fist on the air."

As Green's post went viral, Hervey was tagged by friends in the post, allowing the pair to connect.

Hervey says she hopes the emotional photo shows the challenges moms of black sons face.

"I want him to know that being black shouldn't make you a target, but unfortunately it will," said Hervey. "I don't like that one day I'm going to have to tell him how to act with the police, but I also don't want everyone telling him that all cops are bad because it's not all cops, it's certain ones."