Emerald Garner: From Tragedy to Triumph, Activist Turned Author Finds Healing and Her Voice in New Book

GARY, Ind. – Emerald Garner, an activist and author, has faced tragedy throughout her life. The youngest daughter of the late Eric Garner, she witnessed her father’s murder at the hands of the police, a horrific event that was captured on video and broadcasted widely. Eric Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a powerful rallying cry for the social justice movement. The police officer involved, Daniel Pantaleo, was later fired for using an unauthorized chokehold to restrain Garner, a 43-year-old Black man who had been arrested for selling loose cigarettes. Pantaleo’s failed attempt to regain his job through a lawsuit further highlighted the ongoing struggle for justice.

Tragedy struck again when Emerald’s older sister, Erica, passed away from a massive heart attack. Erica had dedicated herself to protesting in front of the police station where the officer involved in their father’s death worked. With Erica’s untimely death, Emerald stepped in to take care of her sister’s two young children, in addition to raising her own daughter.

After taking a six-month break from public life, Garner has returned to share her story and promote her new book. She hopes to inspire others through her journey of healing and self-discovery within the movement. The book, titled “Finding My Voice,” reflects the importance Garner places on finding her own identity in the aftermath of tragedy.

During an event honoring the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday at Indiana University Northwest, Garner emphasized the significance of self-discovery. Writing the book served as a cathartic experience for her, enabling her to share the details of her father’s murder—a subject she typically avoids discussing—and move forward in her healing journey. Garner believes that she is more than just a victim of police brutality and wants to convey that message to others.

Instead of engaging in continuous protests like her sister, Emerald Garner found her voice through public speaking engagements at churches. While she acknowledges the value of protesting, she also recognizes her personal limits and the need to maintain her well-being. Garner believes that focusing on personal growth and connection is just as crucial as actively participating in demonstrations.

Reflecting on the progress made in the movement since her father’s death, Garner acknowledges that there is still much work to be done. She stresses that social justice extends beyond protesting and is deeply rooted in Black history. Garner’s advocacy efforts have included working towards the passage of the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Bill in her home state of New York and nationwide. The proposed legislation would prevent officers who violate the law from obtaining administrative duties or finding employment as police officers elsewhere.

Garner encourages individuals to find their own role within the social justice movement. As she considers her future, she contemplates attending law school. The murder of her father and her subsequent activism have opened her eyes to the potential impact of a legal career. Garner believes that by expanding their focus beyond protesting, individuals can make significant strides towards achieving real change.

By telling her story and engaging with others, Garner aims to fulfill her own path towards healing while instigating meaningful progress in the fight for justice. Her resilience and determination exemplify the larger movement’s continuous struggle for equality and societal transformation.