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What Has Ferguson, MO Taught Us?

It’s Thursday, August 14, 2014. 9:50AM. After a morning meeting in the office, I receive a text message from my sister, Sojourner.

She begins to explain her worries, imagining if I had been in Michael Brown’s shoes at the time… or any of our male siblings, ranging from ages twenty-two to five-years-old. She continues:

“Mike Brown had his whole life ahead of him, and it was senselessly taken away […] I think about those who fought for us during the Civil Rights Movement and broke the bondages of slavery for us to be able to go to [college] and have these opportunities. It’s like we haven’t progressed as a nation at all.

You may not know my sister personally. However, I’m sure after reading her remarks, you can at least understand one thing—she’s absolutely right.

There are so many issues that need to be addressed with this situation… The fact that it took (what felt like) a lifetime for headlining news networks to report on the crisis… The fact that many people in Ferguson, MO have resorted to mass looting and violence as a response to violence… The fact that there are citizens who are attempting to peacefully protest against the public forces (in whom they are expected to trust), and their cries are barely acknowledged and/or respected… The fact that local schools were closed after the weekend shooting, for the protection of on-foot student commuters… The fact that many people lean to City Alderman, Antonio French’s Twitter account for more accurate, honest and frequent updates than their news stations… The fact that we need more local programs, organizations, community leaders and role models that will engage our Black youth and genuinely touch their lives… The fact that this entire situation is simply labeled as “hashtag-Ferguson” (#Ferguson), and…

most importantly, the fact that citizens need answers, and effective solutions.

An 18-year-old, unarmed, African American male, with no criminal history, was fatally shot, multiple times on Saturday, August 9, 2014. The shooter wasn’t identified until almost a week later, and that announcement had a tag-team partner—a video revealing a young man robbing a convenient store prior to the shooting. This added large amounts of fuel to Ferguson, MO’s already blazing fire…

Michael Brown’s shooting is clearly an assassination.


One day, I am going to be father. And my daughter or son is going to make a mistake, or poor life choice… and it will be my job, as a loving parent, and strong believer in Christ, to turn that negative situation a teachable moment. There will (without a doubt) be some sort of punishment for their actions. But it doesn’t end there. Simply punishing a child, at any level, whether it’s through a spanking or taking away their favorite electronic device, is not a healthy solution to the problem. What does that teach them? To fight problems with threats? Children need to be taught life lessons throughout their childhood, which will allow them to make better choices in their adult lives.

What has the situation in Ferguson, MO taught us?

Michael Brown’s actions could have easily been turned into a teachable moment.

From what I understand, it is a police officer’s duty to serve, protect and defend. If it’s true that Brown and Darren Wilson engaged in a physical altercation, it would seem that the logical response would be for the officer to defend himself, end the altercation, and detain Michael. Sure, Michael would be punished, but action could be pursued that would lead him to healthy guidance and restoration.

He will never have that chance.

It seems easy for us to sympathize with Brown’s family. Many of us can’t even imagine how our lives would be if we were in their shoes…

However, I strongly believe that his family would appreciate much more action than kind words.

Allow this tragedy to sink into your mind and body. Think about what you can do in your own life, for your family, for your community, for Ferguson, MO, or anywhere else. And be bold enough to make something positive happen.

I dare you.


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