At most funerals eulogies attempt to bookend a life through stories. But at Michael Brown's "home going" ceremony yesterday, relatively little was said about the eighteen-year-old man. Most of the speakers talked about his death and the ongoing quest for justice. Family members confessed that they are hurt and angered by his killing.
The sanctuary and several adjacent rooms at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Drive were filled with nearly 4,500 mourners, including 600 members of Brown's family. News helicopters circled in the sky as temperatures soared. T-shirt vendors hawked "I Survived the Ferguson Riots 2014" apparel. Onlookers breathlessly tweeted the arrival of various celebrities like Spike Lee and Jesse Jackson. Limousines clogged the street.
Obviously, this was no ordinary funeral.
While the centerpiece of the service was a 40-minute eulogy by Reverend Al Sharpton, family members did share a bit about Brown's life. Here is what little we learned about Brown, the person, from yesterday's services and from pieces of writing by his mother and father.
Cal Brown, Michael's stepmother, spoke on behalf of her husband, Michael Brown Sr., who stood behind her on the dais. She called the teenager her best friend (as Brown also said in some of his rap lyrics). She said they spent many hours talking about religion and studying the Bible.
"'I've got so much going on inside me,'" she recalled him saying at a lunch right after his graduation from Normandy High School. "'I'm going to shake the world.'"
"If I had the time to tell all that Mike Mike shared with me, there wouldn't be an empty seat in here," she continued. "Mike Mike is an awesome man. I have to say that because I met him three years ago when he was a boy, but he evolved into a man. A good man, and he just wanted so much. He wanted to go to college, he wanted to have a family, he wanted to be a good father...I just want to say to Mike Mike that I love you, and I wish I could hold you and kiss you, but I know you'd say, 'Cal, we don't do that gay stuff.'"
Slideshow: Michael Brown's Funeral Draws Thousands Though neither his mother or father spoke, they submitted pieces of writing to the service's program, including this obituary:
Michael O.D. Brown was born on May 20, 1996, to Michael Brown and Lesley McSpadden in St. Louis, MO.
Michael departed this life suddenly in Ferguson, MO, on August 9, 2014. Michael was preceded in death by his grandfather, Lubie Brown, his great-grandmothers, Para Lee Ewings, Eldora Forston and Lillie Carpenter.
Michael accepted Christ at an early age and joined Original Friendship Baptist Church where he attended with his parents.
Michael was educated in the St. Louis Public School System. He graduated from Normandy High School on May 23, 2014. Michael was in the process of getting ready to attend Vatterott College (on Monday, August 11, 2014).
Michael was an avid lover of music, computers and sports. During his young life he played football. He loved to Rap about life and was so good at it that he was asked to write a song for a friend. He was a very friendly, gentle giant who loved his family very much. Michael enjoyed playing PS4 and X Box games.
Here's what Michael Brown Sr. wrote in the funeral's program:
To My Son
Dear Son, I don't understand why you were chosen by God I know He knows what He is doing because God Almighty doesn't make mistakes. So that's why you were called home I think of you day and night just wish I was there to save you from harm. I always told you I will never let nothing happen to you. And that's what hurt soooooooo much that I couldn't protect you but we love you. I will never let you die in my heart. You will always live forever Your dad and best friend. You old dude, that's what you called me. -- Michael Brown Sr.
By Lesley McSpadden, Brown's mother:
To My Son
I never want this to go unsaid, There are no words to express how much you mean to me. A son like you, I thought could never be. Because the day you were born, I just know, God sent me a blessing -- and that was you. For this I thank Him every day. You are the true definition of a son, in every way. Becoming a mom has shown me a new sense of being. I want you to know that you were the purpose in my life. Out of everything I did -- it was you that I did right. Always remember that I know how much you care. I can tell by the relationship that we share. For a son like you there could be no other, And whether we are together or apart please Don't forget you will always be in my heart. Love, Lesley
Email the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.