Taraji P Henson has recalled the aftermath of her college sweetheart’s murder, and how she struggled to tell their son that his father had been killed.
The Hidden Figures star disclosed the experience on her new Facebook Watch series, Peace of Mind with Taraji, in an episode about grief and losing loved ones to tragedy.
Henson said that she did not tell her son, who was nine at the time of his father’s murder, the circumstances of his death.
“My son’s father was suddenly taken – murdered – when he was nine, and I didn’t know how to tell him that,” Henson said. “I couldn’t tell him he was murdered, so I told him he died in an accident.”
Through tears, Henson recalled her pain at seeing reports of the murder in the local paper.
“I didn’t have the balls,” she continued. “It wouldn’t come out. It was in the paper and I didn’t know how to tell him. He was stabbed to death, it was the worst way you could die. I just didn’t have the words. I didn’t know how to tell a nine-year-old.”
Henson and the late William LaMarr “Mark” Johnson became romantically involved while Henson was studying at Howard University, with their son Marcel born in 1994. The couple later split, and Johnson was killed during a confrontation with his neighbours in 2003.
On her Facebook show, Henson added that her son, now 26, later discovered on his own that his father had been killed.
Henson recalled: “He found out and he came back to me and was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me my daddy was murdered?’ And so then we had to get therapy.”
The full episode of Peace of Mind with Taraji will be released today (6 December).
In December, Henson discussed her struggles with her mental health, revealing that she was “in a dark place” at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.