Tag: Michael Brown

We Ain’t Done. We Ain’t Finished.

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.

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And We Speak

“Mike Brown saved my life.”

-A. Templeton, 2015*

 

August 9, 2014:

My husband and I were headed to our Saturday night service in South St. Louis. We were living in Ferguson, and had lived there with our kids for about a year. We were new pastors and our church plant was Spirit Of Life Church. We left home, and he was driving. There was so much traffic on West Florissant. It was backed up and we were upset about the possibility of being late. My husband, the meticulous one of the two of us, was eager to get where we were going.

I remember having this cold feeling. It wasn’t dread, but something was wrong. It’s a feeling I have had only since I have become a parent. This sense that something within me, part of me, a thread of my being was pulled and I could not catch it to cut it. I told my husband something bad must have happened. I took out my phone, and looked through what was trending. It wasn’t until I got to service, that I had found out what happened:

Officer-involved shooting. 18-year-old African-American male. Dead.

His name: Michael Brown, Jr.

 

They left him outside in the street for four hours. We had been in that traffic. We had been within the net of all that had gone on, and complained about being late for service. We had just seen people strewn along the sidewalks and streets, confused and angry, clutching one another and I had fussed about the traffic and wanted to get to service.

What followed from that day was the beginning of what has become no less than a tidal wave. We were swept into this roux of people that we would have never passed on streets, avoided in stores and never spoken to in public. Our neat bubble was broken, yet we had not died. I remembered how loud I cried, how hard I prayed, and how I cried to God not to let them kill all of us.

There is a scripture in the book of Isaiah that reads as follows, in part:

Here I am Lord, send me. (Isaiah 6:8)

This resistance, this activism is service. It is this that compels me to speak and to be a vessel for such speech. Such amazing things happen in the course of hours, and days, and it was this single event that has unlocked portions of my faith that I had only whispered about.

Part of the prayer I shouted as my biblical foremothers, in their strength, their passion, was, “Lord, you see what they are doing! Don’t let them kill all of us!”

There is something to be said for that type of endurance born from such a place. It ignites. It unlocks. It unties. And most of all, it UNITES.

Here. I. Am. Lord. Send. Me.

It is sometimes in the the face of lions, that you discover that you, too, can roar. And you must. Sometimes, your voice, hands and feet are the tools God uses and sends to be change and the answer to prayer. Indeed, He does move in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

And sometimes we are His instruments.

 

*-This a direct quote taken by a young woman I have been blessed to know that I will only identify as A. Templeton. When she first said this quote, I remarked on how open it was, and how candid it was. And as I reflect, this quote became applicable to and for the people I have encountered since this day 3 years ago. The wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. echoes through it: 

Our lives begin to end the day be become silent about things that matter.