President and Founder
Kadiatou Diallo is an author, social activist and an ardent public speaker.
But first and foremost, she is a mother. It was her role as mother that captivated the heart of America and thrust her into the social justice spotlight when her 23-year-old son Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times by four New York City Police officers while standing in the vestibule of his Bronx apartment building, February 4th, 1999.
The city erupted with protests and prayer vigils as politicians, celebrities and community members spoke out with disbelief and a demand for justice as both the national and international media focused on what happened that winter evening at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Bronx.
The community stood up for a grieving mother and a grieving mother showed up fiercely graceful and inspirationally compelling in her quest for justice.
Mrs. Diallo has become a symbol of the struggle against police brutality and racial profiling in the United States, and is using her experience to empower others. She founded and is president of The Amadou Diallo Foundation, which promotes racial healing and cross-cultural understanding, awards academic scholarships to students of African descent, and seeks to improve police/community relations.
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.
Her book, “My Heart Will Cross This Ocean – My Story, My Son, Amadou” won a 2004 Christopher Award. She was featured in the documentary “Every Mother’s Son” which 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. Another documentary, “Death of Two Sons,” tells the story of Amadou, and of Jesse Thyne, an American Peace Corps Volunteer who lived with Amadou’s family in his home village in Guinea. Jesse died in Guinea, less than a year after Amadou. This film explores the political, personal, and spiritual implications of their lives and deaths. Death of Two Sons shows the common humanity shared by these young men, their families, and their nations.
Passionate about the power of education, Mrs. Diallo built a school in Labe, Guinea in 2013. The school, CADITEC, provides computer technology training.
Mrs. Diallo knows there is much work to be done and has made it her life’s calling. She lectures throughout the country and continues her crusade to raise awareness on issues that are fundamental to a democratic society, donating all of the proceeds to The Amadou Diallo Foundation.
Kadiatou Diallo was born in Guinea in 1959, the granddaughter of a tribal king. 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. 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.
Mrs. Diallo has lived in Africa and Asia. She now divides her time between New York and Maryland, where her three younger children, and grandchildren live. Poised and eloquent, she is determined to see that the death of her eldest child was not in vain.