A Call for Social Change at Brown Funeral

Published 08/25 2014 02:21PM

Updated 08/25 2014 02:26PM

St. Louis (CNN) -- The funeral of slain Ferguson, Missouri, teenager Michael Brown was a celebration of his life, a search for 
meaning in his death and a battle cry to change policing in America.
The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered one of two eulogies during the service, and he had sharp words for those who looted stores and 
rioted after the teenager was shot.
"You don't understand that Michael Brown does not want to be remembered for a riot. He wants to be remembered as the one that made 
America deal with how we're going to police in the United States."
With a call to action, Sharpton criticized police who pointed rifles at peaceful protesters in Ferguson. "We have to leave here 
today and change this," he said.
He urged his audience to respect the Brown family's wish for silence Monday. And when protests resume, Sharpton said "they've 
asked for it to be peaceful. If you can't control yourself, then don't do it in Michael's name. Do it in your own name."
"Michael Brown's blood is crying from the ground, crying for vengeance, crying for justice," said the Rev. Charles Ewing, the 
teenager's uncle, in a eulogy on behalf on the family.
He drew parallels between Brown's life, death and Scripture. "There is a cry being made from the ground, not just for Michael 
Brown but for the Trayvon Martins, for those children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for the Columbine massacre, for the black-
on-black crime."
Family members remembered Monday that the slain teen said, "One day, the world will know my name."
Four members of his family recalled memories of "Mike Mike," as they called him, during services at Friendly Temple Missionary 
Baptist Church in St. Louis.
"Michael was a big guy, but he was a kind, gentle soul, and before he left this Earth, the day that he was killed, he was out 
spreading the word of Jesus Christ," a family friend said.
They urged the crowd of thousands of mourners to "show up at the voting polls," because "we have had enough to of seeing our 
brothers and sisters killed in the streets."
"If we had more of this," one family member said, referring to the audience and then motioning to Brown's casket, "we could have 
less of this. It shouldn't have took this to get us together like this."
A message of hope to a full sanctuary
Bishop Edwin Bass of the Church of God in Christ told the Brown family that he, too, lost a child to violence on the streets of 
St. Louis. "While this tragic loss will always be with you, the step-by-step, one foot in front of the other march of time will 
ultimately bring you to a divine place where you will laugh again, you will find the joy of living again, as your thinking shifts 
from tragedy to the joyful reflection of good times."
Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, wiped away tears as she stood at the coffin that holds her son's body.
The sanctuary, which holds 2,500 people, was filled to capacity, and an overflow auditorium was also full. It was estimated by 
reporters at the service that another 2,000 people were on church property for the funeral service in addition to those in the 
Retired mail carrier Hilliard Phillips, who once delivered on the street where Brown was killed, was among the mourners. He said 
there's power in numbers, and he hoped the outpouring of support for Brown and his family would spur society to take a look at 
"You can't really overnight change the behavior of a person, but sometimes they can be coerced in a sweet way. ... I would hope 
they could see people coming together in a solemn way to show their respect to someone," he said.
Following the service, scores of motorcycles ridden by mourners accompanied the funeral procession that carried Brown's body to 
St. Peter's Cemetery in St. Louis.

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