At a funeral service that included a touching photo montage, soaring gospel music and the names of those Americans slain by police ringing out from the pulpit, more than 800 family and friends packed into a Baptist church in Mesquite, Texas, on Saturday to remember the life of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
Jordan was shot and killed by a Balch Springs, Texas, police officer last weekend as he and his brothers left a party. Thirty-seven-year-old Roy Oliver was fired and charged with murder Friday in the incident.
The Mesquite football team who wore their team jerseys, local officials and gospel singer Kirk Franklin were among mourners at the Friendship Baptist Church for the two-and-a-half-hour open-casket service, according to the Dallas Morning News.
A slide show of Jordan’s life played above the altar, from his infancy to present, “a grinning kid sprawled on the sofa to a freshman football player with dreams set on the University of Alabama,” the Dallas Morning News reports.
Mesquite High Principal Kevin Samples said that Jordan represented the very best of this country.
“As an adult, he was the kid who demonstrated that America has a bright future,” said Samples. “As a fellow human, he was a kid who brought encouragement with his joy. He led his peers with character and finesse, and his presence is greatly missed.”
In addition to parents Odell and Charmaine Edwards and his biological mother, Shaunkeyia Stephens, Jordan’s eldest brother, Kevon—who witnessed his brother’s tragic death—also spoke.
“I just knew it was time to give him to God,” Kevon said, according to the New York Daily News, as Jordan’s classmates burst into tears. “If Jordan was here right now, he’d have a big smile on his face and say, ‘Just keep pushing.’”
Pastor M.L. Dorsey of True Believers Church of Christ, though, brought mourners to their feet with the fiery rhetoric of a black preacher accustomed to preaching about injustice and pain.
“That’s all I can stands; I can’t stand no more,” he boomed, the Dallas Morning News reports.
“Philando Castile,” he said. “I can’t stand no more! Alton Sterling. I can’t stand no more!” He also called the names of Michael Brown and Walter Scott—all unarmed black men killed by law enforcement—before ending with, “Jordan Edwards. I can’t stand no more!”
“What the Edwards family is experiencing ... no parent wants that phone call,” Dorsey said. “But they have also taught us how to grieve and how to handle tragedy.”
The Edwards family have said they do not want their son to be “a martyr,” and asked supporters to refrain from any protests until they have had a chance to properly mourn their beautiful son, who had a “ginormous” smile and was set to start spring football practice on Monday.
Read more at the Dallas Morning News and the New York Daily News.