As Michael Brown’s life was celebrated Monday during a packed ceremony at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, the audience and speakers never lost sight of the reason they were there: justice.
The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered an emotional eulogy, bringing out cheers and applause from the crowd who came to lay to rest the young man whose life was inexplicably cut short.
Sharpton urged protesters to remain calm and civil, forcefully pointing out that Brown’s death had nothing to do with them or their perceived rage. “This is not about you!” he shouted out, his words met with cheers and applause and other shouts from the crowd. “This is about justice! This is about fairness!
“They had to break their mourning to ask folks to stop looting and rioting,” Sharpton said in disbelief, gesturing to Brown’s family as he spoke about the first nights of unrest. “They have to stop mourning to get you to discard your anger, like you’re more angry than they are! Like you don’t understand that Michael Brown does not want to be remembered for a riot. He wants to be remembered as the one who made America deal with how we’re going to police in the United States!”
According to USA Today, some of Brown’s family members also spoke at the memorial service, recalling how the young man had seemingly predicted his own death as he told them that the world would one day know his name.
“He pretty much prophesied his own death and didn’t realize it,” Brown’s stepmother, Cal Brown, said, according to the news site. “Mike-Mike is an awesome man. He just wanted to go to college. He wanted to have a family ... but God had different plans.”
His cousin Eric Davis asked protesters to take their rage to the polls. “Every time change has come, it’s come through the youth and the young generation,” Davis said. “This generation is saying we have had enough of this senseless killing. We have had enough of this.”
The massive St. Louis church, which can fit up to 2,500, was filled to capacity. A nearby auditorium that showed the service on big screens seated an additional 1,000 and quickly filled, too Another 300 individuals were moved to the annex, USA Today notes.
Even more mourners were lined up outside, where people arrived more than three hours before the funeral began.
As was reported earlier, big names at the funeral included three officials from the Obama administration: My Brother’s Keeper head Broderick Johnson, Marlon Marshall of the Office of Public Engagement and Public Engagement Adviser Heather Foster.
Martin Luther King III, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the families of Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell, and Spike Lee were also in attendance.