Monday morning in St. Louis, the funeral ceremony for 18-year-old Michael “Mike” Brown took place at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. As expected, the entire nation turned its eyes to the region as the family and supporters rallied around each other and expressed a peaceful call for justice.
Many notable figures were in attendance at Friendly Temple, with several news outlets present to cover the event. Rev. Al Sharpton, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Martin Luther King III, Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, and Rev. Jesse Jackson were some of the many prominent clergymen there in support of the Brown family. Spike Lee, Tom Joyner, David Banner, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Travyon Martin‘s father, Tracy, were also among the crowd.
Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, respectfully requested the public protests and other demonstrations be put on hold as they laid their son to rest. During a live feed of the funeral, Ms. McSpadden could be seen weeping and being comforted by family members as the church choir sang several selections in the early moments. Several of Brown’s family members, who affectionately called him “Mike-Mike” or “Big Mike” offered brief but emotional memories they’ve shared with him.
Family attorney Benjamin Crump spoke just before Rev. Sharpton entered the pulpit to deliver the eulogy. Crump passionately spoke to the crowd and eloquently made a call for fairness. Crump referenced the 1787 Amendment that classified Blacks as being “three-fifths” of a human, using that to frame his words.
“Mike Brown was not three-fifths of a citizen. We will not accept three fifths of justice,” said Crump before yielding the podium to Rev. Sharpton.
Opening with a Bible verse, Sharpton took to the pulpit to deliver a stirring and, at times, pointed eulogy.
“This young man should be doing his second week in college,” stated Sharpton. “This is about justice. This is about fairness.”
In a common refrain throughout his talk, Sharpton called on all in attendance to rally around the Brown family to demand answers and justice in face of the loss. He also spoke about the extreme police response from the Ferguson forces in early tense days of clashes involving the protesters.
“America,…how do you think we look when the world can see you can’t come up with a police report, but you can find a video. How do you think we look when young people marched non-violently asking for the land of the free and the home of the brave to hear their call and you place snipers on the roof and point guns at them. How do we look?” said Sharpton.
Sharpton mentioned the ongoing Eric Garner matter in New York, and how police in the nation have to be held accountable for their actions despite their roles of authority. Sharpton also gave a sharp critique of Black posturing, crime within Black communities, the use of derogatory terms (including the N-word), among other points.
“Blackness wasn’t about being a thug. Blackness was about no matter how low we were pushed down, we rose up anyhow,” said a passionate Sharpton.
Watch Sharpton deliver his speech here:
In closing, Jakes and Bryant led closing prayers before pallbearers were called to move Brown’s casket as the family headed to St. Peters to bury their beloved.