Jamari Dent remembered as a sweet, playing kid during his funeral Tuesday on the South Side.
Teirra Black bent down to kiss her son’s forehead again and again — as though she couldn’t bring herself to say a final goodbye.
And then she told 13-year-old Jamari Dent that one day, “in Heaven,” they would go to the mother-son dance she’d missed when he was alive.
Black also had a message for other mothers: “If you know that your child is being bullied, please report it.”
Jamari died last week. He’d suffered permanent brain damage as a result of a suicide attempt when in he was in fourth grade, his family has said. On Feb. 18, 2019, Jamari’s 9-year-old sister found him hanging from a coat hook with a bed sheet tied around his neck inside their home. He could no longer walk or talk and needed a breathing tube, Black has said.
A lawsuit filed by the family claims Jamari’s suicide attempt could have been prevented if officials hadn’t ignored his mother’s pleas to protect her son. At Evers Elementary and later at Carter G. Woodson Elementary, Jamari suffered bullying that Chicago Public Schools faculty and the administration either ignored or contributed to, according to a federal lawsuit, which is still pending.
Chicago Public Schools has not commented on the ongoing lawsuit and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Jamari was remembered Tuesday, during a funeral service at Greater Harvest Baptist Church on the South Side, as an affectionate child who loved to dance, play with his many cousins and bounce on his pogo stick. A montage of photographs and videos of Jamari — playing with friends, making scrambled eggs — played on a huge overhead screen during the service.
Jamari was dressed all in white, with a bright green bow tie. Many family and friends came dressed in green — Jamari’s favorite color.
Rev. Eric Thomas said Jamari’s death was “something that should not have happened.”
Thomas urged the young people in the audience to use Jamari’s example as “fuel for your fire.”
“Bullying is never, ever cool,” he said. “God said we should love each other. What we need now is for you to be all that you can be so that this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
After the service and after Jamari’s casket was closed, his mother said she’s managing to cope — out of necessity.
“I have three other children I have to care for so I’m holding up the best I can,” Black said.