Michael Brown Sr.'s Moving Father's Day Letter

At The Grio, Michael Brown Sr. writes about the grief of losing his son to police brutality and encourages fathers to connect with their children. The letter is more than a personal expression of pain, it shows the consequences of systemic racism in the United States. Michael Brown Sr. lost his child to unimaginable violence at the hands of the state. He was forced to watch as his child lay on the ground under a tarp for hours after he was killed, to endure media reports that questioned his fitness as a parent, and to read attacks against the character of his son. Brown Sr.'s letter reveals the aftermath of tragedy, what a parent must live with after the cameras leave and the story fades from the headlines. Michael Brown's death sparked massive political protests that have affected the public discourse surrounding race and the police, but Brown is more than a symbol or news story, he was a real person who had parents who loved him and who now grieve him.
As Father’s Day approaches, my emotions are like hot bubbles in a pot of boiling water—the disbelief, the rage, the grief crashing to the surface again and again. I miss my son. I’m still grieving.
I feel like those soldiers, I’ve read about, with PTSD who can’t stop the traumatic memories from invading their dreams or hijacking their every waking moment. Like some returning from war, I have no peace. I feel betrayed and angry. The character assassination didn’t just apply to Mike. There were many nasty, evil stories about Mike’s mom and me. According to the media, it was our fault that Mike was killed by a cop. On top of my grief, I had to deal with accusations that I was an “absentee father.”
How do you defend something that’s so far from the truth? I was always in Mike’s life. He lived with his mother or me throughout his years. Mike was the best man at my wedding. We stayed in constant contact and talked about everything and anything.
My biggest regret is that we hadn’t talked the day he was killed. I wish so bad that I had called him before he was stopped by the Ferguson cop who took his life. In my dream rewrite, I was there; I stopped things from getting out of control. My son walked away from that encounter, still joking, still rapping, still dreaming . . . still breathing.
I’m often asked; “How are you doing?” People mean well, but that question just raises more questions for me: Am I really supposed to be better? Should I have moved on since Mike’s death? How do I do that?
Because of my son’s death and the justice we’re still seeking, hurting people, grieving people who’ve lost their children to gun violence or police brutality, reach out to me. They invite me to speak at gatherings. There is a small level of comfort in being in the company of the wounded, the lost, the other parents who understand that we can’t possibly “move on.”
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