Mike Brown Means...Fight for Our Kids

By The Reverend Starsky D. Wilson

 

"Please honor my child's memory by encouraging young people, and building them up so that everything we're trying to do with the protests and marches is not in vain." 

 - Lezley McSpadden

 

On Tuesday, July 21, 2015 I stepped onto the hallowed grounds of Alex Haley Farm for the first time. I was there for the Children's Defense Fund's Samuel Dewitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy. The trip was part of an ongoing personal and professional journey to interrogate any means at my disposal to be faithful to the challenges and cries of St. Louis' children and youth, particularly the grief and pain heard around the world since Michael Brown, Jr. was taken from them and us last year. What I didn't expect, was to shed tears myself. I didn't expect it. But, they flowed early Wednesday. After morning devotions, a team of youth leaders from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, described their church's response to the extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown.  In addition to public demonstrations and community forums, they produced a video to educate the youth of the church and community entitled, "Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival If Stopped by the Police." The eerily echoing message of the two-minute film that, "Your goal is to get home safe," was a bit too much for me as I envisioned sharing the life lesson with my young sons.

 

During the video, I remembered the first year at my church when I charged a Sunday school teacher to integrate Kevin Powell's "Black Male Handbook" and its lesson on what to do when you get stopped by police into his class. I recalled the first time I heard rapper and activist, Jasiri X's song, #10FriskCommandments, in the chapel at Chicago Theological Seminary this Spring. The tears flowed and reminded me of my deep lamentations the week after Mike's death last August.

 

"Mike Brown means we've got to [look] back."

 

I didn't go to Haley to revisit this pain. But, I needed to remember. A year later we have appropriately responded to calls to resistance and begun the work of reconciliation. But, to be faithful to either of these, we must remember the pain of a mother's loss, a father's tragic call to new purpose, youth who have discerned vocation through the haze of tear gas and the tough conversations we must have with our children because the St. Louis region is not designed for their good. Only after we remember, can we resist and reconcile.

 

"Mike Brown means we've got to fight back!"

 

We must actively respond with organized resistance to a system of municipal courts that restrict access to children when their parents have court dates, but welcome them as defendants without counsel when they have their own. We must resist St. Louis County Family Court which, the Department of Justice has found, structurally discriminates against Black children and youth. We should be careful not to turn a blind eye to St. Louis' Bankruptcy Court, which (while our attention is focused on others) presently holds the economic futures of a disproportionate number of Black single mothers, their children and the professionals who represent them in their hands.

 

"Mike Brown means we've got to [give] back."

 

It is easy, a year later, to call for reconciliation. But, we must challenge individualized, over-spiritualized and domesticated views of reconciliation. True reconciliation occurs between equals. So, this will require commitments to racial equity in public policy, realignment of community investments and accountability for police. On October 21, 2014 when Governor Nixon announced his intent to form the Ferguson Commission, he rightly stated "Our children must be able to walk to school and play in the park in safety." In doing so, he named three areas of necessary public policy reform to assure the well-being of our children: Elementary and Secondary Education, Parks and Recreation and Public Safety (including policing). As the commission prepares to release its prioritized findings next month, statewide and regional elected officials should be assessed for their commitments to reconciliation through the lens of their reform and investment in these spaces.  

 

This is not a list of options. It is a call to progressive action. There is no authenticity in Resistance if we do not Remember. There is no credibility in Reconciliation if we disrespect Resistance. Mike's memory and our children's future call us to much more.

 

 

Join Deaconess in

Remembrance, Resistance & Reconciliation
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THURS., AUG. 6th; 7-8p.m.

 3 1/2 Minutes 10 Bullets, A Film Screening with the parents of Jordan Davis

Hosted by Hands Up United

Complimentary Ticket Information

 

FRI., AUG. 7th; 12:30-5 p.m.

Ferguson Commission Meeting (Prioritizing Calls to Action)

Details and Directions 

 

SAT., AUG. 8th; 10 a.m.

"What Is the UCC Called to Be in This Time and Place?" 

with General Minister & President-elect, Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer

Hosted by St. Louis Association of the UCC & Christ the King UCC

Directions 

 

SAT., AUG. 8th; 2 p.m.

"Our Possessive Investment in Whiteness" 

with General Minister & President-elect, Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer

Hosted by St. Louis Association of the UCC & Immanuel UCC

Details and Directions  

 

SAT., AUG. 8th; 5 p.m. Reception, 6 p.m. Dinner

26th Annual Clifton Davis "Say Amen" Gala, Honoring Rev. Starsky Wilson

Hosted by Mathews-Dickey Boys' & Girls' Club

Ticket Information and Directions 

 

SUN., AUG. 9th; 6:30 a.m.

Sunrise Interfaith Prayer Service

at Canfield Green Apartments

 

SUN., AUG. 9th; 9 a.m.

For Jesus & Justice: What #MikeBrown Still Means

Hosted by Saint John's Church (The Beloved Community)

Details 

 

 

SUN., AUG. 9th; 7:30 p.m.

"Breaking into History: The Black Church in the Era of Ferguson"

Hosted by HandsUp United, Fellowship of Reconciliation, and PICO Network

Featuring: Dr. Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary; Marc Lamont Hill, BET; Bree NewsomeRev. Traci Blackmon, Christ the King UCC; Rev. Renita Lamkin, St. John's A.M.E.; Rev. Michael McBride, PICO Network; Rev. Rahiel Tesfamariam, UrbanCusp; Rev. Starsky D. Wilson, Saint John's Church / Deaconess Foundation

 

Details 

 

MON., AUG. 10th; 9 a.m.

Moral Monday

Meet at Christ Church Cathedral

1210 Locust Street

St. Louis, MO 63103

 

All events are free and open to the public with the exception of the ticketed gala.