Lezley McSpadden, 37, mother of Michael Brown Jr. and the Ferguson movement, graduated from high school on May 26, 21 years after she left school during her junior year to care for her son.
McSpadden earned her diploma through the Jennings School District’s new adult high school program, STLToday.com reports:
The program started after McSpadden met with Jennings Superintendent Art McCoy in the fall to discuss how her nonprofit, the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons and Daughters Foundation, could collaborate with the district, Jennings School District Superintendent Art [McCoy] said.
During the conversation, McCoy said he brought up the fact that she had still yet to earn her high school diploma after she dropped out of school to raise her son.“I turned the conversation toward saying, I know she dropped out of school when she had Michael Brown, and that we had to get her educated and get a diploma,” McCoy said. “What better way is it to honor your son than to get the degree he got?”
The graduation took place at St. Louis’ Chaifetz Arena.
In an inspirational twist, McSpadden’s daughter, Deja Brown, 18, graduated from Jennings High School the same day as her mother.
McSpadden presented Deja Brown with her diploma at the ceremony.
“She would just go to afternoon class, so we never really interacted at school or in class or anything,” Brown said of her mother. “But I did help her on homework. Like, math, she was like, ‘I’m stuck! I don’t understand this!’ so I would try to help her the best I could, because it was geometry, which I took already.”
Brown continued, speaking to the St. Louis American, “I know it’s something that she’s wanted to do. She’s done it and she’s worked really hard, and she’s so excited and I’m excited for her!”
Brown will be attending Tennessee State University in the fall and studying to become a neonatal nurse, attorney Benjamin Crump announced on social media.
“After what happened to my family, it was hard for me to process, it was hard to be focused in class and continue to keep my grades up,” Brown said. “Just realizing how supportive my support system was kept me going and kept me focused.”
Deja Brown was a 15-year-old sophomore when her beloved big brother was gunned down by white Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A grand jury declined to indict Brown’s killer, but the state-sanctioned execution of the 18-year-old teen sparked the Movement for Black Lives and awakened a generation of organizers, protesters and activists.
McSpadden told CNN that for the first time since her son’s life was stolen three years ago, she’s finally in a good place.
Salute, Ms. McSpadden and Deja Brown, on your graduations! There is a community loving and supporting you both as you take the next steps in your journeys.