MEGAN SHERMAN, CORRESPONDENT, FERGUSON, MO: It was the day Michael Brown was to start his first day of college. Instead, it became the day he would be buried. Outside of Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, ironically located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, throngs of journalists and media workers fought to get through the church doors. Family and community members who are there to show support are left in the blazing heat for hours as men guarding the doors bar many of them from entering, as they cannot differentiate them from those were there to report on the funeral. Initially, it was announced by Brown’s parents that the service would be open to the public, but they later decided to make it private.
UNIDENTIFIED: [incompr.] family [incompr.] You’ve got people out here that’s trying to get in!
SHERMAN: While hundreds waited outside in the scorching heat, conversations about the movement born out of Michael Brown’s death were sparked.
UNIDENTIFIED 1: I lost two nephews in one day.
UNIDENTIFIED 2: But look what we keep allowing to happen. We’ve allowed this to happen for hundreds—.
UNIDENTIFIED 1: I know we allowed it. We need to vote.
UNIDENTIFIED 2: Voting, voting is after the fact. Who are you voting for? We have to place ourselves in a position to be voted for,—
UNIDENTIFIED 1: That’s right.
UNIDENTIFIED 2: —voting for an individual that you think is in your best interests. I’d rather vote for you. I’d rather vote for you.
UNIDENTIFIED 3: They’re going to give us justice, believe me. They’re going to give it to us. But I learned something, that justice is something you can’t ask for. Justice, you’ve got to take it.
UNIDENTIFIED 4: That’s right.
UNIDENTIFIED 3: Justice is something you can’t earn. I think we earned that.
UNIDENTIFIED 4: That’s right.
UNIDENTIFIED 3: All the [incompr.] gave up on 400 years of justice. We should earn that.
UNIDENTIFIED 3: That’s our justice.
UNIDENTIFIED 5: You [incompr.] the past all the money. You could be putting the jobs in the community so we can work, we can be taxpaying citizens. I’ve got a job, but it ain’t good. We all need jobs. We need ownership. We don’t need leadership. We need ownership.
SHERMAN: However, most came out to show their respects for Michael Brown and show solidarity.
SHERMAN: What made you all come out here today?
UNIDENTIFIED 6: We’re showing respect to Michael Brown and his family. And we want, you know what I’m saying, justice.
UNIDENTIFIED 7: We want to show support. I walked all the way back to school—well, all the way from school to get to here just to participate and support Michael Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED 8: I mean, we just want to kind of show our support, kind of learn more about it, be exposed to—just to being out here, not accept what we just hear and see on the news, but come and see for ourselves.
SHERMAN: Off-camera, members of the crowd mentioned to The Real News that they believe the same behavior displayed by the media at a previous event caused the family to bar a majority of the press from the funeral. During the Peace Fest event that was held the day before the funeral, attendees say that members of the media swarmed the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Their actions were described as abrasive and insensitive by those present.
UNIDENTIFIED 9: I mean, everybody’s scarred, everybody’s hurting. And, I mean, everybody doesn’t like that all the media’s here and everything that’s going on, because they still have a everyday life. You know, some people just go to hotels and go back to their places, but they have to deal with all the noise and stuff of everybody being outside of their houses and stuff. I mean, so I understand what they’re coming from. But we actually need this attention so it won’t go away, you know what I’m saying, so it won’t just fall apart. We need to stay on it.
SHERMAN: Inside the church, there was little focus on the life of the slain 18-year-old and rather much more focus on how his death became a rallying cry. Famous civil rights speakers addressed the mourning crowds. Director Spike Lee and other Hollywood stars were also in attendance. As the media and anxious crowds waited in the sweltering heat, community members handed out water and a neighboring church provided a place for people to rest as they watched a video stream of the funeral.
As attendees of Michael Brown’s funeral spilled out of the doors, it was hard to find members of Brown’s immediate family. Instead, Michael’s grieving parents were lost amidst a sea of media workers fighting over one another for a shot.
UNIDENTIFIED 10: Hey, Spike Lee!
UNIDENTIFIED 11: Rev. Sharpton!
UNIDENTIFIED 10: Spike Lee!
SHERMAN: Michael Brown’s name was buried by locals screaming for pictures of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as the crowd caught glimpses of the prominent figureheads pouring out of the building.
UNIDENTIFIED 12: Al Sharpton, we love you! We love you, Al Sharpton!
SHERMAN: One reporter screamed to Mrs. Brown a question, to which she quietly replied, I just want to bury my son.
As the movement begin continues to build, one of the most televised funerals of the year had little to do with Michael Brown and more to do with the legacy he left behind.
This is Megan Sherman with The Real News, reporting from Ferguson, Missouri.