Lesley McSpadden, now known as Lezley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, helps lead the Justice for All rally and march against police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men by police Dec. 13, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
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A mother’s love is said to be one of the purest forms of human love. For her, the loss of a child is unimaginable.

In 2014 Lesley McSpadden faced tragedy on the world stage with the death of her 18-year-old son, Michael Brown. The fatal police shooting ignited protest across the country—and sparked a rallying cry, the famed, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Brown’s death shone a light on racist practices within the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department and the disregard for black lives across the nation.

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Nearly two years after the death of her beloved “Mike Mike,” McSpadden carries on her son’s legacy in a new book, Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil: The Life, Legacy, and Love of My Son Michael Brown.

In the book, she shares the anguish and the anger over his killing and the ways in which he was vilified after the shooting. And with these words, in her heart, she lays Michael Brown to rest:

I never want this to go unsaid, Mike Mike. There are no words to express how much you mean to me. A son like you I thought could never be. Because the day you were born, I just know God sent me a blessing, and that was you. For this, I thank him every day. You are a true definition of a son in every way. Becoming a mom has shown me a new sense of being. I want you to know that you were the purpose in my life. Out of everything I did, it was you that I did right. 

The Root sat down with McSpadden to discuss raising a black boy in America, healing after tragedy and standing in her truth.

Felice León is multimedia editor at The Root.