Atatiana Jefferson was an adventurous spirit. Caring, smart, ambitious, and kind, her loved ones often remember her devotion to her family, which included spending time with her nephews and moving in and looking after her mother, Yolanda Carr, whose health was on the decline.
“She had a great personality. She was a productive member of society. She had a strong Christian faith. She didn’t bother anyone,” Atatiana’s sister Amber Carr told NPR. “Losing her hasn’t been easy.”
Atatiana was born on November 28th and was often referred to as the baby of the family, as the youngest sibling.
Growing up, Atatiana excelled in education. She graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 2010 and graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. According to her family, Atatiana worked from home selling medical equipment and was considering going to medical school, even studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before her life was abruptly taken away.
On October 12th 2019, Atatiana was at her mother’s home in Fort Worth, Texas and spending time with her 8-year-old nephew doing what she loved. In what was supposed to be a safe haven, Atatiana and her nephew spent the night playing Call of Duty when police arrived at her mother’s home around 2.30am after a neighbour called a non-emergency number, claiming that the front door was open.
Body camera footage showed that the officer, Aaron Dean, failed to identify himself before firing his weapon and shooting Atatiana. She was pronounced dead at 3.05am at 28-years-old.
The officer resigned from his duties before he could be fired and has since been charged with murder. No trial date has been set.
Speaking to ABC News in 2019, Amber Carr honoured her late sister, who she said “loved spending time with her nephews”.
“My sister, the relationship she had with my sons is indescribable. Sometimes people think that they are her kids and not mine,” said Carr.
The tragic death of Atatiana – a young Black woman on the path to building her career, enjoyed spending time with family and friends and playing everything from basketball to video games – is a sobering reminder of the briskness at which Black women’s lives are robbed without little thought and consideration.
In the weeks after her death, her father, Marquis A. Jefferson, started a foundation in Atatiana’s name to encourage and support young Black women like her who are pursuing careers in healthcare. He tragically died of a heart attack weeks after Atatiana’s death.
According to the foundation’s website: “The Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson Foundation is in the business of changing and shaping lives. The work we do is aimed at providing a holistic approach to solving some of our society’s biggest challenges. We make sure our partners are empowered by creating opportunities for individuals and communities.”
The key areas that the foundation supports include the development of African American doctors; advocacy through education; empowering poverty stricken communities and serving the homeless.
In addition to the foundation, Atatiana’s remaining family members revealed that they will be launching ‘The Atatiana Project’.
According to the BBC: “The Atatiana Project will focus on education and on improving relations between the police and the community. It will be based in the house where Atatiana was shot.”
While Atatiana’s life came to an end far too early, she impacted many of those around her and as her name lives on, she continues to do so in death.