On Friday, Feb. 1, Michael Brown Sr. came to St. Mary’s College of Maryland to discuss the tragedy of his son, Michael Brown Jr.’s death. Brown Jr. was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo by white police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, when Brown Jr. was 18 years old. His father recounted the day that he lost his son in detail for twenty minutes and proceeded to have a question and answer session with the audience. “I’m not a speaker, just a grieving father,” Brown explained.
Brown Sr. explained that he got a call saying that Brown Jr. had been shot and was laying in the middle of the street on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri. He said that he arrived at the scene and described that could only see his son’s hat and flip flops, but that the body was covered. He kept asking police what was going on, but no one would answer his questions and his son’s body was left on the ground for four and a half hours. Brown recalled that he did not get to see his son until they had a proper wake for close friends and family only.
Brown told the audience that he was not allowed to participate in protests since it could hurt his son’s case. Instead of joining in on the Ferguson unrest, Brown gave back to communities by helping other grieving parents. He set up the “Michael Brown Chosen for Change Foundation” to empower youth and support families.
Brown was very adamant that he was against the Black Lives Matter movement, saying that he was “put on a platform” for the movement to make money. Brown explained that he believes “it’s morally wrong to make money off of grieving families,” concluding that “if you’re going to do the work, do it from the heart.”
During the Q&A session, Maria Saavedra, ‘20, asked Brown what steps should be taken to open conversations about race in primary and secondary schools. Brown answered that he donates school uniforms and clothes to area students, and has spoken to children at two elementary schools in his area. He also advises teachers of different races than their students to “reach out to [students] in a different way,”, and helps teachers figure out the best wording to use with students of color.
Aryana Ware, ‘20, asked Brown what “giving back” looks like to him. He responded that he wants people to stay busy, consistent, and show him the work. He explained that he knows people are genuine “if they do not care if they are seen or not by others.”
Brown explained that he wants people to have tough conversations with their peers to bring awareness to issues of racism within communities. “You have to have conversations with people. It doesn’t matter if it makes them uncomfortable,” Brown explained. He stated that it is important for every family to tell their children how to be safe within their community, no matter their race, and that “these are just conversations that need to happen.”
This event was organized by Aissatou Thiaw, Assistant Director of Campus Programming, with support from Dean Leonard E. Brown, the DeSousa Brent Scholars, the Office of Student Activities, Student Government Association, and Programs Board.