Mike Brown’s father and stepmom work with Activists on memorial art show

Mike Brown’s stepmom Cal Brown and local artist Dail Chambers glued old St. Louis American newspapers onto the chest of Michael Brown to build a paper mache cast of his chest to create a life-sized replica of his son for the five-year anniversary of Mike Brown’s death on August 9.

Photo by Rebecca Rivas

The St. Louis American sat down with Michael Brown Sr. last week at the Urban League’s Ferguson Empowerment Center at 9420 W. Florissant Ave, where he and his family will host the “As I See You: A Tribute to Mike Brown Jr.” from August 9-11.

American: What is life like for your family today?

Brown: Everyday life for the Browns. Up and down. Emotions are different. Still waking up differently. Still trying to find some kind of peace. Finding peace. Peace leaves sometimes. Just trying to stay on a positive note. Even though we are doing things to try and change pain into a purpose, it’s still a different feeling that we are trying to still get by because that was tragic.

Just trying to start back loving on each other, because I think that part kind of left when that happened. Fighting for something that we believe in and losing. The rest of the kids asking questions like, ‘You forgot about us.’ Getting them to a place where they could understand why we were going so hard for their brother, but we had to understand them too. It just wasn’t about him, it was about them too.

American: You mentioned previously that people react when they hear or see your name. Could you talk about what that’s like?

Brown: The thing that gets me is that people call me a celebrity. It bothers me when they say that, because I don’t know how you become a celebrity off the death of a child. But I get what they are trying to say; they’re just not seeing it right. Language. The respect that the community has overall for the family is amazing. They get some of it. Some people do. They never will understand how we actually feel, but we respect the support and really appreciate it.

American: What do you want people to know?

Brown: We are human too. The upbringing of Mike was a regular upbringing. He was someone’s child. Someone’s brother. Someone’s uncle. Someone’s everything. Keeping him in the light of people knowing that he was a human being. People have different outlooks on the situation, and they are due to their opinion. We definitely want people to know that he had people out here who loved him too. He wasn’t just a guy that the family gave up on.

American: In 2014, were you aware of some of the issues that came up after your son’s death, such as police brutality and cash bail?

Brown: I was aware of a few things, watching the news. We weren’t out there like that. I remember Mike wearing a hoodie for Travyon Martin. He was doing some things. I was one of those people that life was moving so fast, that I wasn’t paying attention to the issues. It had to hit our front door, but I definitely understand now. It’s a hurtful feeling, but we know our roles in this play and are trying to execute.

American: Did “Mike Mike” talk to you about Travyon Martin?

Brown: He was taking pictures with his hoodie on his head. A lot of people see that picture, but didn’t know that’s why he had that hoodie on. I knew because he told me. I feel kind of bad for not being aware, but whenever, we learn.

American: Is there something that people don’t know about that day that you want them to understand?

Brown: I would recommend people to watch Stranger Fruit. There were a lot of things that were covered up.

American: Where were you when you found out about your son?

Brown: Our house had caught on fire a month before. We were staying with Cal’s mother (Cal is his wife). I had just gotten off work and I was folding clothes. The phone rang, and Cal gave me the phone. I think I said, ‘The police just killed my son, the police just killed Mike.’ Everything went so fast or slow – in a tunnel. I can’t really describe it. I was folding clothes at the house.

American: What was Mike like?

Brown: He was loving, silly, big, strong, goofy, protective. Just a teenager, finding his way. Trying to just be him and be happy. He was working towards his accomplishments and figuring out his future and it was taken from him. He drew a lot of people in. You couldn’t do nothing but love him.

At 11 a.m. on Aug. 9, Brown and the Michael Brown Chosen For Change Foundation are inviting people to gather at the memorial plaque in the Canfield Green neighborhood. They will hold the International Moment of Silence at 11:55 p.m. for 4.5 minutes. Then, the group will walk up to the parking lot at 9421 W. Florissant Ave., where there will be a Community Day with vendors. The As I See You exhibit will be open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Aug. 9-11 at the Ferguson Empowerment Center. 

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