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Five years ago, I was in a car with my kids, husband and my cell phone. I was screaming, crying and praying in our church service. At that moment, my life, due to a young man I did not know named Michael, changed it.
In five years, I have seen people embroiled in this Ferguson movement die, be murdered under mysterious circumstances, stalked by law enforcement, move away, run for office, and be exposed as frauds! I’ve seen people stan law enforcement to and with religious zeal—and I’ve seen people beat up because of it!
In five years, I have questioned my own strength. My faith. My ability to protect my own children. I have been triggered by loud noises. Fire crackers. Too many police cars on the street. Blue Lives Matter flags. Big crowds.
My life has totally changed.
Yet, the trajectory of that night five years ago, created this space. Enabled me to write rather than cry. To view the world, and myself as James Baldwin instructs.
There will be some that will, still use the hashtags, famous names and check-ins as social clout! But those of us who saw guns pulled on people going to work; bearcats on West Florissant Boulevard; tear gas canisters breaking on streets you drive and shop on; and children that look like yours tear gassed in their own backyards; if you weren’t there, you don’t get to weigh in!
But in this, from this, I want to draw attention to the foundation set up by Michael Brown, Sr.: CHOSEN FOR CHANGE. The mission of the foundation is simple:
Saving lives one day at a time through empowering youth, strengthening families and giving back.
In this, dear ones, I have no deep resounding 5-year reflection. I have no deep, saged reflections. There are people I know personally still on the ground giving time, talent, love, money and energy to make Ferguson better. To make their local neighborhoods better like my tribe Fran Griffin (now Councilwoman Griffin!) Emily and Tony. Still feeding the homeless, like Cathy “Mama Cat” Daniels with PotBangerz!
There is more to this memorializing of August 9, 2014 than death, lies and police corruption! This is a day for some of us, where the life we lived before changed! Where we found passions, causes and careers that allowed us to flourish! Where we began to examine our lives, circumstances and social circles to change them.
It’s a long way to go.
But the adage goes:
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
In real communities, real activism occurs. And we will go farther–together.