Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil
“I wasn’t there when Mike Mike was shot. I didn’t see him fall or take his last breath, but as his mother, I do know one thing better than anyone, and that’s how to tell my son’s story, and the journey we shared together as mother and son." —Lezley McSpadden
Michael Brown’s death profoundly shaped the conversation about race and justice in America today. Everyone has their own version of Michael Brown’s story: who he was, what happened to him, and whose fault it was. In this powerful portrait of our time, McSpadden tells the beautiful, devastating, and indelible story of her life, her son, and their truth.
Immediately after he died, McSpadden’s son became a national symbol. The question, “Why did Michael Brown die?” was suddenly the crux of every narrative about race in contemporary America. Protests erupted across the country, cries of “Hands up, don’t shoot!” reverberated through the streets and airwaves of every home, and thousands of people came together with strength and solidarity under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement.
With startling clarity and riveting force, McSpadden brings us inside her own experiences being raised by a single mother and attending a white school where she did not belong; the violence she witnessed in the streets of St. Louis over decades; becoming pregnant at age fifteen and dropping out of school to work and support her son; suffering through and recovering from abusive relationships; and raising four children as a single mother. McSpadden writes passionately about the hours, days, and months after her son’s death—being on the ground with the protestors, how she was treated by the police and city officials, and how she felt in the gut-wrenching moment that the grand jury announced it would not indict Darren Wilson.
When McSpadden realizes that the system will not deliver justice to her son—that in this world strangers often assume the right to write our stories for us—she shows us how to feel our way through the deepest darkness by creating meaning for ourselves, celebrating each life, and becoming an agent for justice and change.