Stephanie Flowers is an Arkansas state senator who made headlines across the country after she gave a passionate speech during a debate on her state’s “stand your ground” law. Flowers’ speech went viral on social media and was shared by social media users from Sarah Silverman to Kamala Harris. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Flowers Told Her Fellow Lawmakers They Needed More Time to Debate the Measure, Adding, ‘My Son Doesn’t Walk the Same Path as Your Does’
FLowers was the only person of color present during a Senate committee debate on Wednesday in the Arkansas state senate about the state’s stand your ground law. (A “stand your ground” law allows gun-holders to shoot to kill in cases of self-defense.) Three Republicans have proposed doing away with a measure called the “duty to retreat” that requires gun holders to back away when possible.
“I am the only person here of color. I am a mother, too, and I have a son,” Flowers told the committee, after some called for an end to the debate so that it could proceed to a vote. “And I care as much for my son as y’all care for y’all’s. But my son doesn’t walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time.” She added: “You don’t have to worry about your children. … I worry about my son, and I worry about other little black boys and girls. And people coming into my neighborhood, into my city, saying they have open-carry rights walking down in front of my doggone office in front of the courthouse.”
2. When the Committee Chair Asked Flowers to Stop Talking She Replied, ‘What Are You Going to Do, Shoot Me?’
The chairman of the Senate committee, Alan Clark, tried to make Flowers stop talking: “Senator, you need to stop,” he cautioned. “No the hell I don’t. What are you going to do, shoot me?” Flowers responded. A little later, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports, Flowers went outside to smoke a cigarette. She came back in to find a group of law enforcement officials — the Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police and the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association — advising against changing the law.
The Senate committee eventually voted 4-3 against changing the law, with one Republican siding with the Democrats. However, the measure is expected to come up for another vote in the near future.
3. Flowers Has One Son, Zeri & She Talked About Her Fears About Him
Flowers’ son, William Zeri Flowers, graduated from Henderson State University in 2014. Here he is pictured with his mother back when he was a freshman. Flowers spoke emotionally about her fears for Zeri, as a young African American man; she told the Senate committee, “You don’t have to worry about your children. … I worry about my son, and I worry about other little black boys and girls. And people coming into my neighborhood, into my city, saying they have open-carry rights walking down in front of my doggone office in front of the courthouse.” She added that Zeri has moved away from the state, and said she’s glad about it. “He’s 27 years old and he’s out of Arkansas,” Flowers said, “and I’m glad, when you’re bringing up crap like this.”
Flowers raised her son in Pine Bluffs, which she described as a rough neighborhood, and one where, she said, “we have killings regularly.”
4. Flowers Has Been in the Arkansas Legislature Since 2004 & Is a Practicing Attorney
Flowers was first elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2004. She represented District 17 for three terms before being elected to the Senate in 2010. In the Senate, Flowers represents District 5, which includes parts of Arkansas, Desha,
Jefferson, Lincoln and Phillips counties.
Flowers is a practicing attorney and is licensed in Texas and Arkansas. She grew up in Pine Bluff, where she still lives. Her father was an attorney and her mother was an educator.
5. Flowers Is a Trustee of Her Church, Mount Pleasant A.M.E. Church
Flowers lists her religious affiliation as “Methodist.” She is a member of the Mount Pleasant AME Church in Pine Bluff, where she is a member of the board of trustees.