Everyone wants to know how the past 365 days have been since Michael Brown was gunned down by Officer Darren Wilson. It’s not really an easy answer. Thinking back it’s been good, bad, ugly and amazing. Before August 9, 2014 I was a woman who recently graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 2013 working my first year in my career field. I knew police brutality and systematic oppression existed but it never seemed to be too close to me, until Ferguson. I grew up in Jennings, Mo, less than five minutes from Ferguson, Mo. I walked on West Florissant all of the time and I had friends who lived in Canfield. When I heard about the killing of the unarmed teenager I knew I had to get up and do something.
Fast-forward to a year later and I have fully committed to the liberation of Black bodies.
My part in the movement started as simply recording. I graduated from SEMO with a degree in Video Production and Journalism. Seeing the news continuously play footage from the riots made me livid since so much more was happening in Ferguson, so I decided to take my camera and my phone and give social media updates as they happened. People began watching, people began looking at my social media pages for the latest on Ferguson. The movement has not only changed my life but also changed my heart. It became an addiction to fight for the rights of blackness. I became willing to sacrifice my life if it meant that my people had a better chance of living. The movement has been so empowering, unifying and eye opening. It’s not always easy; you’re always face to face with controversy, hate, oppression and misunderstanding. At times, I have been at the edge of giving up because it seems easier. I’ve gotten my first and only three arrests during protests; I’ve been tear gassed, stood in freezing cold weather overnight, brutalized by police and more, but I wasn’t alone.
It’s a year in and the people of the movement have worked in so many areas to get change. Social media has been mind-blowing in brining awareness to people all over the world and connecting people. Every movement has had its trials and tribulations but I’m am so proud of where we are. The protesters are my family. I can go to them for anything. They’ve had my back through it all. We stand with each other. There are so many passionate people working to make so many critical changes in areas from police to community outreach. It’s beautiful. Thinking back on all that we have overcome I can’t help but become emotional. We’ve been through so much together, we’ve fought for change together, and we’ve risked our lives and our freedom together. The work has only begun but love will win. The movement started because of a tragedy and it has sparked truth in black liberation.
LaShell Eikerenkoetter, a 25-year-old St. Louis native, is a Black liberation activist