A young man from Berkeley is trying to raise money to bring home his little sister’s body for burial after she was killed Friday in Georgia where she was attending college.
The day after Thanksgiving, around 3 a.m., 25-year-old Cierra Ford was fatally shot in her home in Sandy Springs, a suburb north of Atlanta, according to news reports. A 21-year-old man with her in the home also was shot and was reported to be in critical but stable condition at the hospital. Police said robbery may have been the motive. No arrests have been made.
Ford graduated from Berkeley High in 2009, then went on to get her associate’s degree from Contra Costa Community College.
Her brother Clarence — a master’s student at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy — wrote that his sister “excelled academically earning A’s and B’s which allowed her to apply and receive multiple scholarships” while attending community college.
She later transferred to Clark Atlanta University, a historically black university in Atlanta, where she was majoring in communications.
“Cierra was intelligent, charismatic, and she had a vibrant sense of humor that resonated with her friends and family,” wrote Clarence, on the fundraising page for his sister. “We would appreciate any help towards financing this funeral by donating or sharing this link so that we can give Cierra the Homegoing she deserves.”
He noted that his sister had overcome challenges and been incarcerated after high school due to bad decisions. Success at community college and her studies at Clark Atlanta followed, however, and “she was in the process of restoring her life.”
He described his sister as a role model for young women who may struggle to see higher education in their future, which he said “is a notion that needs to be eradicated in our community.”
Ford said he, too, made his own bad decisions, was incarcerated, and had to work to get his life on track. But after graduating from UC Berkeley, he got into the master’s program at Goldman, and is now applying to law school.
“I’ve been able to advocate for the removal of barriers that hindered me and many others … from progressing,” he said. “I found my purpose and passion through the mistakes I’ve made. It was the same for Cierra but her life was cut short and she didn’t get to experience her full potential.”
He said his sister wanted to be a journalist or radio host, and loved daytime talk show “The Real.” She had plans to intern for an Atlanta radio station this coming summer to get experience and learn how the business works.
“She wanted to have critical dialogues around race, gun violence, incarceration, etc.,” he said, “essentially all the issues that are prevalent among women and in the black community.”
He said his family will miss his sister’s “beautiful smile and colorful sense of humor,” adding: “Cierra was loved across the Bay Area.”
On the fundraising page, Ford also spoke out for unity and the need for communities to come together on their own to stop gun violence.
“This is not just an isolated incident that happened to Cierra. Gun violence is prevalent throughout many Black communities across the country,” he wrote. “Families and communities are ruptured and grieve every day due to gun violence. We have been conditioned to believe that this is normal when in fact IT’S NOT.”
Berkeley native Christopher Allen, Ford’s cousin, described Cierra as calm and supportive.
“She was always there to talk when others needed it, and she touched everyone she met with her beautiful soul,” he said.
The Ford family has put together a fundraiser to bring Cierra’s body home and help with funeral costs. It had raised more than $10,400 as of publication time, with a goal of $15,000.
Members of the Berkeley community also stepped up to help the Ford family in August after Cierra’s sister Charde was badly burned in a house fire. Charde graduated from Berkeley High School in 2011.
The family lived near San Pablo Park, where the siblings played as kids, though they have since moved.
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