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Brunswick Foundation Pivots After Agreement With Ahmaud Arbery’s Mother

Ahmaud Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, bottom center, listens to Jason Vaughn, co-founder of the 2:23 Foundation, speak during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for Ahmaud at the Satilla Shores development on Feb. 23 in Brunswick.
Ahmaud Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, bottom center, listens to Jason Vaughn, co-founder of the 2:23 Foundation, speak during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for Ahmaud at the Satilla Shores development on Feb. 23 in Brunswick.
Credit Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press
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One of the original groups to bring awareness to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery will cease using the date of his death as its foundation mark and pivot its efforts to another local organization.

According to a press release, Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Arbery, who was shot and killed in Brunswick, Georgia, last year after being chased by three white men, has reached an agreement with the 2:23 Foundation that it will stop using the name and donate all of the $345,306.73 raised in scholarship funds to her own foundation named after her son.

We have collectively decided that fighting the battle in front of us is what’s most important.”

— Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery

The foundation says it will also switch gears and begin to focus its efforts under the nonprofit organization A Better Glynn, which has been working since June 2020 to “identify, educate, and equip individuals to be equity-driven decision-makers through civic engagement, policy advocacy, and leadership development.”

Demetris Frazier, co-founder of 2:23 Foundation, notes, “Our purpose when we started our efforts was to pursue justice for Ahmaud. We’re grateful that the wheels of justice are in motion and are confident that we can continue to focus on changing systems here in Glynn County through joining other advocacy groups.”

Wanda Cooper-Jones visits the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, where her son was shot and killed. (Sarah Blake Morgan/Associated Press)

In the weeks and months after Arbery’s death, a Facebook page called “I Run With Maud” was created by friends and family to raise awareness. At the time, at least two local district attorneys had refused to bring charges against the men responsible.

When a cellphone video of Arbery’s shooting was released to the public, the Facebook page gained tens of thousands of followers overnight. Soon after, the page turned into the 2:23 Foundation, and the group began raising scholarship money for local Black and brown youth. 

Arbery was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020, thus the name 2:23 Foundation. The group held a virtual run on the one-year anniversary of Arbery’s death and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cooper-Jones’ lawyers released multiple statements that the group was going against her wishes by fundraising in her son’s name. The foundation experienced an immediate backlash on social media.

The “Good News Agreement” is a mutual understanding between the group and Cooper-Jones that will allow both parties to continue working toward systemic change free from disparagement.

“We felt that it was important for all parties that we keep the focus where it should be,” notes Cooper-Jones in the joint statement. “And we have collectively decided that fighting the battle in front of us is what’s most important.”

Travis and Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan are awaiting trial for the death of Arbery. On Wednesday, all three men were indicted on federal hate crime charges

One year ago, we had more questions than we had answers,” noted 2:23 Foundation co-founder Jason Vaughn. “We are grateful that the family is well on their way to getting justice and happy we were able to play some role in that process.”