In His Memory: Michael Brown’s Mother Receives Her High School Diploma
“What better way for you to honor your son than by obtaining your high school diploma?” were the words spoken to Lezley McSpadden in a conversation with Jennings School District Superintendent, Art McCoy. McSpadden had revealed that she dropped out of Ladue Horton Watkins High School her junior year after giving birth to Brown about two decades ago. McSpadden also shared that the police shooting of her son Michael Brown in 2014 motivated her to go back to school. Brown had recently graduated high school before he was killed.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that McSpadden enrolled in the program in September and worked toward her diploma at Jennings High School along with her daughter, Deja Brown making sure their schedules didn’t overlap. Superintendent McCoy expressed that McSpadden didn’t want to divert attention away from the other students. The adult program began in September after McSpadden met with the district about collaborating with her nonprofit, Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons and Daughters Foundation.
Daughter Deja, who graduated along with her mom on Friday, May 26 at St. Louis’ Chaifetz Arena, shared that attending school with her mother wasn’t an issue:
“She would just go to afternoon class, so we never really interacted at school or in class or anything, 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.”
Deja is celebrating her own accomplishments but also keeping in mind the long road traveled by her mother:
“I can’t really believe that I made it out of high school.”
“ 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!”
The St. Louis American reports Deja Brown will attend Tennessee State University in the fall to begin studies to become a neonatal nurse. She is already working in healthcare, with a job at a Schnucks Pharmacy and plans to become a certified pharmacy technician in June.
The family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump posted pictures of the celebratory moment to Instagram and noted that McSpadden shared with him she “has a purpose now to try to uphold the legacy of her son.” While handing the 37-year-old her diploma, McCoy noted, “She took time to finish what she started.”
Congratulations to #LezleyMcSpadden, the mother of #MichaelBrown, seen here receiving her high school diploma twenty-one years after leaving high school as a teen mom to care for her late son. As she proudly marched across the auditorium stage, her daughter Daysa follows and also receives her high school diploma. Daysa is now headed to Tennessee, and will attend The Tennessee State University. #BlackLivesMatter✊🏾 #BlackGirlMagic💫