Love for Naima

It is with deep sadness that we share that Jeannine King died suddenly and unexpectedly on Monday, April 3rd, leaving behind her 20-year-old son, Naima. Jeannine was a long-time special educator and school leader who impacted the lives of thousands of students, families and colleagues. She was an incredible educator and advocate for children, and particularly dedicated herself to mentoring special educators of the global majority. Jeannine's legacy will live on in the lives of her former students and her colleagues.

More than any of this, her most important role was being a fierce and devoted mother to Naima. Jeannine was a single parent who paved the way for Naima's future with careful consideration and sacrifice. Naima is a talented artist, critical thinker and incredibly kind person. He is a beautiful reflection of his mother and her most important legacy.

Naima is a trans man who was blessed to have a supportive and fiercely protective mother in his corner. Jeannine provided a safe and loving home for him to process his feelings about his identity, joined him in family counseling at the Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute, and advocated tirelessly for him in every school setting to ensure that he and his transition process were respected and validated. Jeannine loves him unconditionally and was there with him every step of his journey to become himself fully, proudly and unapologetically. And now she isn't there for the rest of his journey. As you know the stakes are high for young trans people and it is hard to adequately express how devastating this loss is for Naima.

Naima is pursuing his education at the Maryland Institute College for Art (MICA) in Baltimore. Jeannine's passing has left Naima without his most important source of emotional and financial support. Naima is a determined and capable person, but is also only 20 years old and not ready to fully support himself while finishing his degree. We are committed to helping him continue his education and find a way to thrive in the life his mother envisioned for him.

While Naima does the difficult work of grieving this enormous loss we want to provide help with living expenses and money he can use for college expenses. He is beginning his adult life without the aid of his most important champion. There is no replacing the love, guidance and devotion that Jeannine provided Naima, but we want to come together to support him as he finds his way forward without her.

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Kendra Sibley
New York, NY

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