Kadiatou Diallo was born in Guinea in 1959, the granddaughter of a scholar and Imam. She was fourth, in a family of four boys and five girls. Her father, after being devastated by his eldest daughter’s pregnancy out of wedlock, went against his own progressive views and gave away Kadiatou in a traditional marriage at the young age of 13 to avoid any further shame to the family. She was the only daughter to experience such a fate. Her father struggled with his decision for years, but he did impose one condition on his young daughter’s husband: “She is smart, you must allow her to go to school,” he demanded.
At 16 she gave birth to her eldest son, Amadou Diallo. Three other children followed: Laoura, Ibrahim, and Abdoul. Despite her controlling husband who continuously ignored her father’s demand, she educated herself and started a successful business of her own in Bangkok Thailand.
On february 4th 1999 , when she learned that Amadou had been shot and killed by four New York police officers, she came to New York and fought to present a true picture of her son. Mrs. Diallo has become a symbol of the struggle against police brutality in this country, and is using her experience to empower others.
Soon after the shooting, she founded and is president of The Amadou Diallo Foundation, Inc. The foundation was formed with three goals in mind: to offer scholarships to students in Africa who want to study in America, to improve relations with the police and the community and to provide a mentoring program for young people. Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins is the foundation’s chairman.
Mrs. Diallo humanizes the tragedy of racial profiling and police brutality and continues to aggressively work with community leaders to bring about change. She has worked closely with Eric Adams, founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care to improve relations between the police and the community. She has worked with local politicians in an effort to pass a racial profiling law in Albany, NY as well as with Hillary Clinton to pass one on the federal level. Mrs. Diallo knows there is much work to be done and has made it her life’s calling.
Her book won a 2004 Christopher Award. She is featured in a documentary titled "death of two sons" plusanother documentary “Every Mother’s Son” that aired on public television. The documentary is a testimonial of three ethnicities – an African mother (Kadiatou Diallo), a Latino mother (Iris Baez) and a Jewish mother (Doris Buscky) – to show the world that police brutality is a human rights issue.
In 2009 Mrs. Diallo helped to build a computer school in Labe, Guinea to bring computer access to students. She lectures throughout the country and continues her crusade to raise awareness on issues, which are fundamental to a democratic society, donating all of the proceeds to The Amadou Diallo Foundation, Inc.
She has now become the source of confort and strenght to many families who have suffered similar stragedies . She divides her time between New York and Maryland, where her three younger children live. Poised and eloquent, she is determined to see that the death of her eldest child was not in vain and she is committed to turning her pain into a mission for peace, justice and Unity.
MY HEART WILL CROSS THIS OCEAN
MY STORY, MY SON, AMADOU
He returned, a silent body with a tale untold. If there is anything as cruel as the taking of a man’s life, it is the taking away of his story, the particulars that make him holy.
The mother who dreams that she can undo any harm that comes to her child, dreams fruitlessly. The one last thing she can do is try to give her child back his story, the greatest and least obligation she can fulfill.” ~ Kadiatou Diallo