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Looking back and ahead, two years after the death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson

Michael Brown Sr. stands at the back of the Ferguson Community Center's event space during the public comment portion of a 2016 Ferguson city council meeting.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
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On Tuesday, Aug. 9 it will have been two years since the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. What's on your mind? Share with St. Louis on the Air during the noon hour on Tuesday.

Tuesday, Aug. 9, marked two years since the police shooting death of Michael Brown. What's changed over those two years? What hasn't? What feelings does the day bring up for you?

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh and Pastor F. Willis Johnson, of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, reflected on the day and listened to your thoughts, two years later, about policing, protest, Ferguson, St. Louis and how our nation has changed since the death of Michael Brown.

Pastor F. Willis Johnson of Wellspring Church in Ferguson.
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Pastor F. Willis Johnson of Wellspring Church in Ferguson.

“We would be remiss if we don’t acknowledge the fact that we have made some strides,” Johnson said. “There are efforts and initiatives and, in personal and communal circles, awareness and a sense of activism that came alive in August of 2014 that continues to exist. We’ve made some headway but we still have much work to do and many miles to get there. We reflect, but we’re still charged to work.”

One of the most disturbing things, Johnson said, has been seeing occurrences like the police shooting death of Michael Brown happen “in places near and far.” For Johnson, reflecting on this day means thinking about the work needed going forward to ensure less of these instances happen in the future.

“How do we resolve the issue of ‘othering’ or being indifferent? This issue is one of dehumanization,” Johnson said. “It is one of disrespect for sacredness of person. Until we move beyond ‘othering’ and what makes that a reality, I don’t know how simply a program or repositioning, reassigning or electing people that look like you will make a difference when people see you differently.”

Callers during the program brought up issues of the need for reform on a national scale, police-community relationships across cultures, poverty and politics and immediate steps to take to change the status quo. You can listen to the rest of the conversation here:

Another good place for reflection might be through St. Louis Public Radio’s “One Year in Ferguson” project, which was released this time last year. It reflects “how it looked, how it sounded, how it felt” from Aug. 9, 2014 to Aug. 9, 2015.

St. Louis Public Radio also conducted a "listening session" at Ferguson Municpal Public Library on Aug. 4. Ferguson residents reflected on what's changed and what hasn't in the past two years. You can listen to some of their thoughts here

We’ll be talking with a variety of people this week about what has changed—and what hasn’t—in the past two years. If you feel like you didn’t hear your thoughts echoed in the above conversation, email your name and your reflection to talk@stlpublicradio.org. We may be able to discuss your reflections in a later segment. 

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.