Prayer on the First Anniversary of Michael Brown’s Death

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of all of our hearts contribute to peace and justice in this world.  I invite you at the end of each passage to speak these words in unison: We bear witness.

One year ago this morning, Mike Brown, the son of Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, a father and a mother who loved their child, was breathing.

We bear witness.


One year ago today, Mike Brown, 18 years old, had just days before successfully graduated from high school.

We bear witness.


One year ago, at noon, Mike Brown, unarmed, living in a city with a police force that did not reflect the racial make-up of the community, where emails with racist content were shared regularly among law enforcement, where people of color were stopped for traffic violations at a much higher rate than their white fellow citizens, was shot and killed.

We bear witness.

One year ago, four and a half hours later, Mike Brown’s body lay where he fell, a pool of blood his pillow; neighbor children were protected by their parents and moved to rooms in their homes that did not look out onto that part of the street; cell phone cameras and twitter accounts focused on this image and shared it with the world.

We bear witness.


One year ago and ever since, our nation has been reeling. Every single day, except the day of Mike Brown’s funeral, there have been protests in the streets. A festering wound has surfaced again, reality for many all these long years, visible now to a wider swath of the nation and the world.

We bear witness.


We cannot turn away from the dire truth that too many people, especially too many Black and Brown people, lose their lives under suspicious circumstances at the hands of those entrusted to keep the peace or by those who “stand their ground.”

We bear witness.

On this one year anniversary of the death of Mike Brown, let us bear witness to all that our nation has lost in these lives which matter; let us bear witness to all that our nation might gain should we commit ourselves to doing our part to bend the moral arc of the universe towards racial justice.

We bear witness.



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For many social justice actions across the nation in the past year, the symbolic time period of four and a half minutes – like the four and a half hours Mike Brown’s body lay in the street – has been powerful. This morning, we will use it for our prayerful time together.

This is, for our context, a long time. It is, in fact, too long – and yet, that is the point. It will likely make us uncomfortable – and yet, that is the point. This is a time in our nation when we must not push away our discomfort, but use it to fuel our capacity to change what is wrong.

To help us all of stay with this meditation, I will ring the chime once each minute in case – or when – minds wander. I will ring the chime three times at the end our meditation.

Should you be so moved during the meditation, a list of the names of unarmed Black people who “have been killed by police in the US” since Mike Brown’s death. There are 96 names because it was printed on Friday morning – less than 48 hours ago. Yet there is already a name missing: Christian Taylor, 19 years old, killed Friday evening in Arlington, Texas.

Let our holy stillness begin.


In an effort to honor Michael Brown’s life and all the black lives that have been taken by police and America’s other systems of racism, we list the names of unarmed black people killed by police since Michael Brown’s tragic death. We realize that this list only contains part of the picture of police violence against black people. We hope you will use it as a starting point for prayer and personal action.

Ezell Ford                                    August 11, 2014

Dante Parker                           August 12, 2014

Corey Levert Tanner                  August 13, 2014

Levon Leroy Love                           August 17, 2014

Arvel Douglas Williams                  August 20, 2014

Rondre Lamar Hornbeak         August 22, 2014

Veronica Woodard                  August 22, 2014

Briant Paula                           August 23, 2014

Cortez Washington                  August 26, 2014

Darrien Hunt                           September 10, 2014

Ricky Deangelo Hinkle                  September 13, 2014

Charles Smith                           September 18, 2014

Cameron Tillman                           September 23, 2014

Eugene Williams                           September 27, 2014

Oliver Jarrod Gregoire                  September 28, 2014

Latandra Ellington                  October 1, 2014

Lashano Gilbert                           October 4, 2014

Balantine Mbegbu                           October 6, 2014

Iretha Lilly                                    October 7, 2014

Adam Ardett Madison                  October 17, 2014

Michael Ricardo Minor                  October 23, 2014

Florence White                           October 25, 2014

Christopher McCray                  October 27, 2014

Kaldrick Donald                           October 28, 2014

John T. Wilson III                           November 1, 2014

David Yearby                           November 2, 2014

Tanisha Anderson                           November 13, 2014

Keara Crowder                           November 18, 2015

Akai Gurley                                    November 20, 2014

Tamir Rice                                    November 22, 2014

Eric Ricks                                    November 25, 2014

Rumain Brisbon                           December 2, 2014

Dennis Grigsby                           December 15, 2014

David Andre Scott                  December 27, 2014

Jerame Reid                           December 30, 2014

Matthew Ajibade                           January 1, 2015

Brian Pickett                           January 6, 2015

Andre Murphy Sr.                           January 7, 2015

Artago Howard                           January 8, 2015

Demaris Turner                           January 23, 2015

Alvin Haynes                           January 26, 2015

Jeremy Lett                                    February 5, 2015

Natasha McKenna                           February 8, 2015

Terry Price                                    February 21, 2015

Calvon Reid                                    February 22, 2015

Glenn Lewis                           February 25, 2015

Charly Keunang                           March 1, 2015

Darrell Gatewood                           March 1, 2015

Thomas Allen Jr.                           March 1, 2015

Andrew Williams                           March 6, 2015

Bernard Moore                           March 6, 2015

Naeschylus Vinzant                  March 6, 2015

Tony Robinson                           March 6, 2015

Anthony Hill                           March 9, 2015

Terrance Moxley                           March 10, 2015

Jonathan Paul                           March 12, 2015

Askari Roberts                           March 17, 2015

Brandon Jones                           March 19, 2015

Denzel Brown                           March 22, 2015

Dominick Wise                           March 30, 2015

Phillip White                           March 31, 2015

Donald Ivy                                    April 2, 2015

Eric Harris                                    April 2, 2015

Walter Scott                           April 4, 2015

Freddie Gray                           April 12, 2015

Frank Shephard III                  April 15, 2015

Darrell Brown                           April 16, 2015

Norman Cooper                           April 19, 2015

David Felix                                    April 25, 2015

Bryan Overstreet                           April 28, 2015

Brendon Glenn                           May 6, 2015

Jason Champion                           May 6, 2015

Nuwnah Laroche                           May 6, 2015

Sam Holmes                           May 8, 2015

DaJuan Graham                           May 12, 2015

Lorenzo Hayes                           May 13, 2015

Markus Clark                           May 20, 2015

Richard Davis                           May 31, 2015

Ross Anthony                           June 8, 2015

Alan Williams                           June 13, 2015

Kris Jackson                           June 15, 2015

Jermaine Benjamin                  June 16, 2015

Kevin Bajoie                           June 20, 2015

Spencer McCain                           June 25, 2015

Kevin Judson                           July 1, 2015

Jonathan Sanders                           July 8, 2015

Salvado Ellswood                           July 12, 2015

Sandra Bland                           July 13, 2015

Kindra Chapman                           July 14, 2015

Darrius Stewart                           July 17, 2015

Alexis McGovern                           July 17, 2015

Joyce Curnell                           July 23, 2015

Samuel DuBose                           July 19, 2015

Ralkina Jones                           July 26, 2015

Raynetta Turner                           July 27, 2015

Created by Karen G. Johnston, Erika Hewitt, and Kellie Kelly. Primary Sources were http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database, and http://www.rt.com/usa/311211-six-black-women-dead-police/.