The Rev. Jeff Obafemi Carr had never been to Ferguson, Mo., but on Aug. 24, he decided to travel therein order to attend Michael Brown’s funeral.
After getting lost, Carr wandered to the backstreets of the city, where he found the scene where Brown died. He looked around, seeing candles, T-shirts and teddy bears left in honor of Brown, and paid his respects there, he said.
“I couldn’t help but notice the ground was still soaked with his blood,” Carr said. “It was an emotionally overpowering experience.”
On Aug. 9, Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown, an unarmed, African-American teenager. This event sparked a series of protests on police brutality.
“I felt that I needed to do something,” Carr said. “I’m sure that was informed by my relationship as an African-American man who has achieved just that in society–having to deal with being a teenager and learning what happens when you see the blue lights flash.”
During his time in Ferguson, Carr spoke with international reporters and people that grew up with Brown.
“I learned more about human nature, psychology and spirituality in those few hours,” Carr said.
Ninety-five-percent of Ferguson’s government is white while the town is 70 percent black. Ferguson makes the majority of its revenue from sources such as ticket stops, fines and citations. Using that money, the minority gets money to fund the system that keeps them in power, said Carr.
“Racism is not bigotry or hatred,” Carr said. “It is a systemic organization that benefits the majority culture.”
After hearing stories of tear gas use, discrimination in protest policy and injustice in the investigation, Carr decided action and discussion of “white privilege” was the only alternative.
“Bad things happen when good people do nothing. We have to do something that’s about social action, truth, justice and righteousness,” he said.
Carr ended the event with a challenge for the students in attendance.
“Take what you heard today in meditation, and when you hear what you can contribute to make things better for yourself and other people, do something, even if it’s small,” Carr said. “You won’t be popular, but there will be a transformation inside you. You’ll feel a sense of peace because you’ll realize your purpose.”
This article was written by Brooklyn Penn.