ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – The family of Michael Brown may have been grieving, but they still counseled thousands of mourners Monday during his funeral.
"He did not know how his name would be remembered,” said family member Eric Davis. “But we are here today remembering the name of Michael Brown."
It was once a common name. Now his is a household name for the teen who was black, unarmed, and 18 years old when a white Ferguson police officer shot him to death on August 9, 2014. Ferguson erupted into violent protests for days.
"But not today,” said family member Ty Pruitt. “Today is for peace, peace and quiet.”
The Reverend Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy to a congregation of thousands, including an estimated 600 family members, dignitaries like Jessie Jackson, entertainers like M.C. Hammer and neighbors who had never met Mike Brown. They all packed the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in North St. Louis.
“It is out of order for children to be buried by their parents,” Sharpton said from the pulpit.
The family did not seek condolences. Instead, they issued challenges to change the existing political system locally and nationally.
"What you guys can do to continue this is show up at the voting polls,” Davis shouted over applause from the 2,500 mourners in the sanctuary. “Let your voices be heard.”
About 2,000 more applauded from the overflow rooms as Sharpton challenged the black community to change themselves.
“Blackness has never been about a gangsta or a thug. It’s always been about no matter how much we have been pushed down, we rose up anyhow.”
Sharpton also demanded the community stay vigilant over the investigation into Brown’s death.
“No community in American would tolerate an 18-year-old boy laying in the street four-and-a-half hours. We won't tolerate it either. Whatever happened, we are demanding this boy's life be answered for by somebody."
A grand jury is now considering charges against the officer. Some here say they walked away still angry, but changed for the better.
“It was a historical reference that Reverend Al Sharpton brought,” said one man who had never met Brown. “A very beautiful message that he brought to the people.”
"When all the cameras leave, when this is all over with,” said Ricco Kimbrough who met Brown’s grandfather, Les McSpadden only a week before. We have to remember Mike Brown for the change his death has brought to this community."
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