“I’m a coach, so let me coach you,” said life coach, best-selling author and television personality Iyanla Vanzant. “You don’t want to say ‘I am Michael Brown’ because that means you are in his condition. You want to say ‘I stand for Michael Brown.’”
And so they did.
“I STAND FOR MICHAEL BROWN.”
This afternoon, they were standing in the sweltering heat, with the sun beating down their backs as they convened at the Canfield Green Apartments as Vanzant filmed a special episode of “Iyanla: Fix My Life” for Oprah Winfrey’s The Own Network.
Good Samaritans passed out water and fruit snacks to people as they saw them growing weary among the crowd of about 150 or so.
It was Iyanla’s second day on Canfield Drive. She spoke with residents, protesters and faith leaders who have all been a part of the demonstrations that are well into their second week.
She introduced a group of men she christened “the magnificent 13,” men who she charged with keeping the momentum going as the world keeps their eye on Ferguson in the wake of the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
Her primary objective on Thursday though was to ask the people who gathered around the shrine that marks the scene of Brown’s death to join her in a call for peace.
In a video the day before, she had asked that the young people of Ferguson – and the rap stars they worship – to meet her in Canfield Green to pledge a 14-day peace challenge.
Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s Benzino showed up. Rapper Common recorded a video message.
“We are warriors, but we need to be peaceful warriors,” Common said.
Iyanla announced that Common would be visiting Ferguson tomorrow.
In this 14-Day Peace Challenge, she asked that residents “Pause.Plan.Prepare.Participate” – and she asked that they all be done peacefully.
“Y’all have got to come together,” Vanzant said. “I don’t know how. I don’t know where – I’m not here to tell you how to run your business. Just handle your business. Organize. You don’t have to raise up a hero. Find collective voices. “
Of the four points of her challenge, participate seemed to be the most pressing as she addressed the crowd.
“What are you going to do Monday? You have to know now,” Vanzant said. “You have to know where you’re going, where you’re marching. Where you’re going to meet, where you’re gonna end up. Don’t give them an excuse to determine how you grieve. You have to prepare. What’s the next move?”
Vanzant also spoke of the importance of intergenerational communication as they move forward with organizing protests and demonstrations.
“Gather the youth. Meet with the youth. One thing at a time,” Vanzant said. “You can do this, but you’ve got to talk to each other – and if you can’t talk to each other, nobody is going to listen to you.”
“We want justice,” a booming anonymous voice yelled from the crowd.
“Justice is going to take time,” Vanzant said. “I’m an attorney. I’m telling you it’s not going to happen in the next week. The world is watching Ferguson. And they are looking to see what you are going to do next.”