Lezley McSpadden, a woman still only known to much of the world as simply “Michael Brown’s mother,” has written an op-ed for the New York Times about the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. She is also scheduled to speak at this week’s Democratic National Convention (DNC), bringing her platform of grief to the stage, condemning the extrajudicial murder of black men, women, and children at the hands of law enforcement officials.
“I cried on Wednesday as I watched, like much of the country, the horrifying video images from Baton Rouge, La., showing a black man being shot to death, in the back and the chest, after being wrestled into submission by two white police officers. On Thursday, I woke up to the news of a black man in Minnesota, shot by the police during a traffic stop. I am devastated and infuriated.”
McSpadden’s 18-year-old son was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking outrage and protests in the weeks that followed. Since then, she has started a foundation in Michael Brown’s memory and has also become a major face of the Black Lives Matter movement, continuing to advocate for justice for people of color who are suffering from police brutality. In the op-ed, she talks frankly as a mother, discussing the similarities between what happened to her son and the recent incidents in Baton Rouge and St. Anthony, Minnesota.
“When their children are killed, mothers are expected to say something. To help keep the peace. To help make change. But what can I possibly say? I just know we need to do something.”
Still, despite her ongoing grief and outrage, Michael Brown’s mother continually affirms her strong commitment to upholding the cause of basic human rights and nonviolence throughout the op-ed.
“Since I lost my son to a police shooting, I’ve done a lot of thinking. I’ve gone to therapy, as have my other children. I’ve campaigned in St. Louis to mandate body cameras on police officers at all times. We cannot assume that justice will be done. So I will never stop talking about my son or fighting for justice for him.”
When Michael Brown was killed on that hot summer day, the incident, much like the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, brought the issue of rising racial tensions between law enforcement officials and African Americans across the country to the forefront of the political and social discussion. It also helped push the Black Lives Matter movement into the national spotlight and now Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, has been asked to speak at this week’s Democratic National Convention.
According to the DNC schedule, she will appear Tuesday, July 25, as part of a “Mothers of the Movement” group, appearing alongside former President Bill Clinton, reported NPR. The group will also include the mothers of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, and other African-Americans who have been killed in high-profile incidents. In the recent op-ed, Michael Brown’s mother also condemns media manipulations and reports that contort the truth, turning the blame around onto those who are actually victims of police oppression.
“People will try to twist the words of Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile’s families and turn them into something ugly. These men will be called ‘thugs’ and much, much worse. It’s already happening. Click on the comments section of any article you read about their deaths, and you will be shocked by the racist comments of people who insist – insist – that they obviously deserved to die.”
McSpadden has also appeared at other Hillary Clinton events and gave an impassioned plea as Michael Brown’s mother before a United Nations committee at a human rights conference in Switzerland. She has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Ferguson, now ex-cop Darren Wilson, and former police chief Thomas Jackson. In April, she memorialized her son by appearing in an emotionally-charged scene in Beyoncé’s visually stunning masterpiece Lemonade, and McSpadden’s memoir chronicling Michael Brown’s life and her role as his mother, Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil, was just released in May.
[Photo by Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images]