‘The Work Continues’: Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s Mother, After Losing Ferguson City Council Race

Avatar
Written by Ann Brown
Lesley McSpadden
FILE – In this Dec. 11, 2015, file photo, Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, attends an event by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in St. Louis. McSpadden could soon have oversight over the Ferguson, Missouri, police department connected to her son’s death. On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, voters in Ferguson will select city council members in three of the St. Louis suburb’s six wards. McSpadden is among three candidates running in Ward 3. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Five years after the death her son at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri, policeman, Lesley McSpadden ran for a seat on City Council. If she had been elected, McSpadden would have overseen the police department tied to the death of her son, Michael Brown.

But alas, she was defeated. She finished third in a three-way race in Ferguson’s 3rd Ward, with Fran Griffin winning. Also in the race was the  incumbent Keith Kallstrom.

Despite the loss, McSpadden vowed she will continue her fight against police brutality. “I congratulate Fran on her victory. I feel proud of the positive race we ran, and I loved talking to the Ferguson community,” McSpadden said in an emailed statement. “Tomorrow, the work continues and I intend to be a part of it no matter my position. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I wanted to go back and do something right in a place that did something so very wrong to my son, and I think that’s what my son would want as well,” McSpadden, 39, told The Associated Press prior to the election. One of her campaign promises was to make police accountability a top priority.

An unarmed Black 18-year-old, Brown was fatally shot by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, setting off months of protests and violence. A St. Louis County grand jury’s November 2014 decision not to indict Wilson sparked renewed unrest in the St. Louis suburb, where two-thirds of the 21,000 residents are Black, AP reported.

The protests put the Black Lives Matter organization in the spotlight.


Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 53: Frederick Hutson Part 1: Jamarlin talks to justice-tech pioneer Frederick Hutson, who founded Pigeonly to create communications products for inmates and their families that reduce the destructive impact of incarceration.

Some criticized McSpadden’s campaign, saying she wasn’t connecting to the community. In fact, she moved to Ferguson just a year ago from a nearby community so she could to run for City Council.

“I did this because we were all devastated over what we saw almost five years ago,” said McSpadden, 39, in an interview with CNN. “I was personally devastated because that’s my son. My children witnessed the devastation.”

McSpadden isn’t the only mother to be inspired to enter politics after the death of a child. Six years ago Lucy McBath’s son, Jordan Davis, 17, was shot as he sat in a parked S.U.V. at a Florida gas station. McBath recently ran for a Georgia congressional seat and won on her stance against gun violence.