Ferguson prepares to celebrate the life of Michael Brown Jr.
Between the steady stream of media interviews, final logistical planning and volunteer coordination, it’s been a busy week for the Brown family and members of the Chosen for Change Foundation. They started working on the second annual memorial weekend that will celebrate the life of Michael Brown Jr. nearly a year ago.
This is a painful time of year for Michael Brown Sr., particularly with the renewed attention that comes at the two-year mark since his son was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer. But he stays positive and thoughtful about what this weekend can accomplish.
“It opens the mind back up for the people that went back to their normal life,” Brown said, “because we don’t have a normal life anymore.”
The “Weekend to Remember” runs Aug. 5-7, and 9. It opens on Friday with an art exhibit and storytelling event at Greater St. Mark Church in Ferguson. Youth Speak Truth: Responding to Racialized Violence in America brings together the young siblings and family members of people who have been killed by police or community violence to talk about their experience.
“We’re very cautious about protecting the children, their feelings, and really validating their stories,” said Jana Gamble, vice president with Chosen for Change. “They are working prior to the event with different healers in the community — counselors, therapists, religious leaders, so they can feel supported and comfortable.”
Saturday is the Justice Walk, for which participants must pre-register online and pay a $2 fee that goes to provide water, popsicles and cooling stations for the crowd. Brown Sr. is looking forward to it.
“The special one is the walk, from Canfield to the cemetery that he’s buried in, and to the school that he last completed, high school,” Brown said. “I just feel like it was connected all the way. This is the last of the accomplishments that he made, and from where he laid 4.5 hours in the street, to where he lies now in the cemetery.”
Sunday, the Urban League Cultural Center will host a scholarship and benefit dinner headlined by Rev. Al Sharpton, attended by Ferguson residents and other families who have lost loved ones to violence.
On Tuesday, the foundation will host a vigil at the site where Brown Jr. was killed. Participants will observe a national moment of silence, one minute for each of the four and a half hours Brown Jr.'s body remained in the street after he was shot.
Chosen for Change works throughout the year, not only on memorial weekends like this one. Foundation representatives speak at local schools. The group also sponsors lock-ins for school kids, hosts an annual retreat for fathers that have lost a child and offers giveaways during the winter holiday season.
“What we’re trying to do is just keep it in a positive atmosphere,” Brown said. “Some people do have their own agenda. We’re not part of their agenda, we have our own — to just have a nice peaceful weekend, for the families and for the other people around the world who are coming to fellowship or just hang out with the Brown family.”