In an op-ed published in Friday's New York Times, Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, reflected on the state of police violence against black Americans in the two years since her son was killed in Ferguson, MO.
"I am devastated and infuriated," McSpadden wrote, before describing the sense of familiarity she felt upon learning about the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile this week. Their deaths, she explained, are terrible enough as it is, but what the families of Castile and Sterling now face is "the horror of seeing their loved one die over and over, in public, in such a violent way," as the public judges them based solely on the last tragic seconds of their lives.
That is a horror McSpadden shares with the other families of slain black people.
"We’ve helped one another cope," she wrote about this community of grief. "And we’ll try to do the same for Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile’s families. I’ll never forget meeting Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice. I looked at this strong woman and was amazed to think that she was just starting a horrible journey, one that will never end, one that I am still on."
Mothers have been the focus of McSpadden's work in the years since Brown died. At the center of The signature program of her Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation, is called "Rainbow of Mothers." As its website explains, the program exists to develop "'collective impact’ through the proactive engagement of multi-cultural/multi-ethnic mothers who…have suffered and sustained the devastating and unthinkable pre-mature loss of a child."
McSpadden ended her emotional essay with both an invitation, and a challenge. "When you’re ready, and if you need me," she told the families of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, "I’ll be there for you." She then added:
But the people I would really like to say something to are the ones who claim that justice will prevail. Whose justice? When justice comes to the one who didn’t pull the trigger, that’s when I’ll believe you.
Read the full piece here.