Tag: Michael Brown funeral

Respectful Mourning and Calls for Action at Funeral for Michael Brown

Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother, at his funeral in St. Louis. (RICHARD PERRY / THE NEW YORK TIMES)

ST. LOUIS — They came by the thousands to pay their respects. Among them were the parents and extended family — some 500 strong — of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed more than two weeks ago by a Ferguson police officer.

But the crowd of mourners also included the Rev. Jesse Jackson; film director Spike Lee; T. D. Jakes, the bishop of The Potter’s House, an African-American megachurch; several members of Congress; representatives from the White House; and two children of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During a deeply religious service here on Monday at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, several speakers exhorted mourners to work for justice, not just for Mr. Brown but for others, long after the funeral was over.

“There is a cry being made from the ground, not just for Michael Brown, but for the Trayvon Martins, for those children in Sandy Hook Elementary School, for the Columbine massacre, for black-on-black crime,” the Rev. Charles Ewing, Mr. Brown’s uncle, said.

Speaking before the overflowing crowd, the Rev. Al Sharpton criticized the militarization of the police and their treatment of Mr. Brown, while calling on African-Americans to push for change instead of “sitting around having ghetto pity parties.”

On Sunday, relatives of Mr. Brown had asked for quiet during the funeral. The fatal shooting had set off weeks of protests and a severe police reaction in Ferguson. Several speakers echoed pleas from Mr. Brown’s family for people to refrain from protesting on Monday.

“Please don’t exacerbate the almost unbearable pain of this family,” said Bishop Edwin Bass of the Church of God in Christ. “It is imperative that we resist the temptation to react by rioting.”

Many mourners, most of whom were black, wore buttons showing Mr. Brown’s picture, and large photos of Mr. Brown stood at the front of the church. Rousing hymns by the Missouri Jurisdictional Choir repeatedly brought the entire crowd to their feet.

Among the family members who spoke, Cal Brown, Mr. Brown’s stepmother, said that just weeks before he was shot, Mr. Brown had described a dream in which he had seen bloody sheets hanging on a clothes line. “He pretty much prophesied his own death and he didn’t even realize it,” she said, calling him “an awesome man” who wanted to have a family and “be a good father.”

In addition to numerous readings from the Bible, there were readings from Dr. King and references to significant court cases in black history. Referring to the original determination in the Constitution that blacks were counted as three-fifths of a man for the purposes of voting, Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who is representing Mr. Brown’s family, said that the teenager “was not three-fifths of a citizen. He was an American citizen and we will not accept three-fifths justice.”

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