Day 8 - Last Words: Michael Brown

Day 8 - Last Words: Michael Brown

"I don't have a gun. Stop shooting."

Michael Brown, 1996-2014

Shortly before noon on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson walked along the double yellow lines in the middle of Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri. Officer Darren Wilson approached the two boys in his vehicle and ordered them to move out of the middle of the road. There was a struggle between Brown and Wilson, during which Wilson's gun fired twice, striking Brown's right hand. Both boys fled, and Wilson got out of his car to pursue Brown. Wilson fired his gun, striking Brown's body at least six times and killing him.

Brown's body remained in the street for over four hours. After his corpse was taken away, two weeks passed before his mother was able to see him. In November 2014, a grand jury elected not to indict Officer Wilson. In the months after shooting Brown, Wilson received nearly $500,000 in online support. Michael Brown's last words are taken from an interview with his friend Dorian Johnson on MSNBC on August 11, 2014.

In June 2017 St. Louis County agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the relatives of Michael Brown. In 2016 Lezley McSpadden published, Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil: The Life, Legacy, and Love of My Son Michael Brown. McSpadden is also the founder of the Michael O. D. Brown We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation. 

Sources: Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC

“Faulkner – among so many others! – is so plaintive concerning this “middle of the road” from which “extremist” elements of both races are driving him that it does not seem unfair to ask just what he has been doing there until now. ... Why – and how – does one move from the middle of the road where one was aiding Negroes into the streets – to shoot them?”
— James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name, 1961

During debates in the 1950s and 60s, many white Southerners resisted integration by suggesting a milder, "middle of the road" approach to racial equity. Mississippi novelist William Faulkner famously suggested that, if pushed to move on integration, he would go with white Southerners "into the streets and shoot blacks."

Baldwin knows that half-hearted, lukewarm movements for racial justice will turn into a bloodbath for the oppressed. In what is far too heart-breaking a reality, Michael Brown's body bears the wounds of the white man who cannot walk the middle of the road. Brown's body bears the bullets of the white man who cannot help but shoot black men in the very streets he claims to protect. 

God our Father, send your Holy Spirit to those who say, “Go slow.” Keep us from walking the middle road of faith, hope, and love. Move our feet along the road of righteousness. Let the winds of change blow through our hearts, Holy God, that we might march in the parade of love toward your good future.
God our Mother, send your Holy Spirit to those who say, “Stop shooting.” Protect us from forces of wickedness. When our lives are in the crosshairs of those who carry lethal force, shelter us from the violence. Surround us with a shield of mercy. Let the winds of change give us life, Holy God, that we might march along the road of love that leads to your good future. Amen.
Day 9 - First Steps: Mourn

Day 9 - First Steps: Mourn

Day 7 - First Steps: Contact

Day 7 - First Steps: Contact