As the two-year anniversary of the Michael Brown Jr. grand jury decision nears, Fox 2 News wanted to see how Michael Brown Sr. was coping with the changes in his life. He also wanted to clear the air about misconceptions about his family.
A group of kids at Marian Middle School gave Brown an award for helping with a class project on racism and for work at his non-profit Chosen for Change. Brown said it’s important to do what you can in the community.
“I was there to support, I ended up getting a plaque,” Brown said. “I was surprised; that was nice.”
Dyawna Gamble, a sixth-grader, said Brown’s community service is what drew her class to him.
“The impact they’ve had on St. Louis is big; how they help people. They give water and help people clean and help the grieving fathers,” she said.
The smiles don’t come as often for Brown these days. It’s been two years since his son was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer; a moment in time that has forever changed everything in his life. A life suddenly thrust into the national spotlight and microscope.
“It’s taken a big toll on my life. I went in a place that nobody really wanted to go, in like a tunnel with no lights. I had to find my light,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of lies out; there’s a book with a bunch of lies about me.”
The reserved father of 9 wanted to do his interview at Normandy High School, a place that provides him solace and good memories about his son’s accomplishments.
“Mike wasn’t a bad kid. He was the average kid trying to find his way through life, like we all did,” Brown said. “Who didn’t do something silly as a teenager?”
When asked about misconceptions involving his family, Brown was quick to clear the air, saying he’s not rich, was always there for his son, and constantly worries about the safety of his family.
“We still get hate mail, threats; it’s real for us. All of that. Not sure how other people live, but it’s real for us. People in St. Louis walk up to me and say, ‘You’re a celebrity,’ I tell them, ‘How can I become a celebrity off the death of your son?’ It is hard for me to grasp that.”
While Brown continues to grieve for his oldest son, he’s accepted his new place and purpose in life via the Michael Brown Foundation. He’s now supporting his family by traveling with other grieving fathers across the country on a college tour to share his story to hopefully bring peace, understanding, and change to the issues of today.
“Not seeing a beard like mine on his face, his kid’s, grandkids; it’s a dagger in my chest,” Brown said. “We had such a high profile case that I can’t work. Won’t no one will hire me. Sadly, I can’t ever have my life back like it was. It’s a whole other chapter, so I just have to keep my head up high and keep going.”