I cannot presume to add anything new to the conversation about Ferguson, Mike Brown, Darren Wilson, racial inequity or white privilege. I can only share a small slice of a morning, five days after a grand jury said no to charges against the city police officer.
All I can do is share a small slice from a nippy early Saturday morning at the I Love Ferguson center on South Florissant. The morning saw a gathering of people from throughout Ferguson and other area communities for an open house.
I met an 80-year-old woman who looked like she was in her 60s, pleased to tell me about her 78 years living in Ferguson, with a broad smile on her face. I met a 15-year resident of the city who said the way I could help was simple: Spend money in Ferguson.
That’s a pretty simple request. Mission accomplished, with more to come.
The early morning chill gave way to a sunny and warm late morning, as the street soon came alive with artists from around the region who had gathered to “Paint for Peace” along the boarded up storefronts.
With paint, brushes and other supplies contributed by ArtBar in St. Louis, artists fanned out to adorn the plywood affixed to the storefronts along Florissant Avenue — a way to beautify something that by its mere existence is not beautiful. The message was simple: Strive for messages of peace in your artwork.
Many of those storefronts had already been painted; they’re among the photos that are part of the Facebook gallery you should be able to see here.
The next morning, Sunday, I attended church, where I heard a sermon by our visiting priest, the Rev. Jay Kanzler. Jay is also a lawyer and civic activist, who has clients in Ferguson, including the twice-looted Ferguson Market. He posted a GoFundMe campaign for the market, as well as this one for Sam’s Market, and has been heard in local media expressing his outrage about the situation.
“When Ferguson Market was burning,” Kanzler said in his sermon, “a woman from the neighborhood came into the store and she put out the fire using gallons of milk that she had pulled from the cooler and poured it all over the fire. She did this at substantial risk to her own safety. She did this because she wasn’t going to let the criminals destroy her neighborhood. She did this because she wasn’t going to allow her friend’s store to go up in flames. She was black. She is one of the faces of Ferguson that I see.”
Kurt Greenbaum is a volunteer, a media consultant in St. Louis, a proud father and a devoted husband.