Nearly 5,000 mourners packed St. Louis’ Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church to say farewell to 18-year-old Michael Brown, struck down in a hail of bullets in Ferguson, Missouri over two weeks prior. Despite blazing temperatures, the service provided both sanctuary and comfort for many of those who have struggle to come to terms with the teen’s death, and the events that ensued in the days following the August 9th shooting.
The service drew a number of dignitaries and notables, including Reverend Jesse Jackson, Rep. Maxine Waters, Senator Claire McCaskill, Spike Lee, Hammer and three White House officials, appearing on behalf of the president. Relatives of Emmitt Till, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were in attendance, along with a large cadre of faith leaders, including Bishop T.D. Jakes and Pastor Jamal H. Bryant, who both delivered prayers.
Reverend Al Sharpton, who has been by the family’s side frequently since the uprisings in Ferguson began, performed the eulogy.
“No community in America would tolerate an 18-year-old boy laying in the street four-and-a-half hours. We won’t tolerate it either,” said Sharpton. “Whatever happened, we are demanding this boy’s life be answered for by somebody.”
Some 600 members of Brown’s family were in attendance. While his parents did not speak, stepmother Cal Brown described him as “my best friend.” She talked of the teen’s recent re-commitment to his Christian faith and an eerie premonition he had weeks before he was killed. After Cal was in the hospital with a recent illness, he told her that he did not think she was going to survive, telling her “I've been dreaming of death, seeing pictures of death, seeing pictures of bloody sheets hanging on clotheslines.”
“He prophesied his own death,” she said.
Brown’s great uncle Pastor Charles Ewing was also among the family’s designated speakers, stating "Michael Brown's blood is crying from the ground, crying for vengeance, crying for justice."
Noticeably absent from the service was Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who shelved plans to attend and released a statement saying he was doing so out of respect for the family. In his stead, he sent Lt. Govenor Peter Kindler, who recently called for “Anglo-American” style justice to replace the protests in Ferguson.