Estimated reading time: 13 minute(s)
Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): In your newly released book Tell The Truth and Shame The Devil: The Life, Legacy, and Love of My Son Michael Brown you said, “I do know one thing better than anyone, and that’s how to tell my son’s story…” How did the idea of telling his story in a book form come about and why is telling his story critical?
Lezley McSpadden (LM): It became a book, because I was using a journal to write down my feelings. Every time they would put something out in the media that I knew was false. Also for myself, because I too was being attacked. I never publically made an announcement about it, so I would write my feelings down about it. Almost like a diary but it wasn’t. It was more like a journal.
Three weeks after it happened things really started getting hectic. My oldest cousin knew Lyah, and when I met her we started talking and we found out that we had things in common; that we went to the same high school. After that she and I became friends. Later on, six months into our friendship, I found out she was a writer. She and I was just having a conversation about everything that was going on, and she brought it up like, “You should write a book! You should let people know”. My feeling at first was that, “I’m being honest with them already when I speak, but they’re still saying other things. So how would this change?” It was kind of shutting me down, and I got to the point of not speaking as much. Lyah was like, “Lezley, you gotta let them know. You gotta tell your story”.
My story and my life involved more than just me. So I had to find out would other people be okay with it. In that time I looked at myself. I reflected back over those years I was willing to talk about to find out if I was really ready to talk about that; to let it out and let it go. I looked at what I had to deal with now versus…(tearful)…I’m sorry…versus those things, and this was much bigger. It had done so much to me that I was over those other things, you know? My thing was that I needed to start considering me and not all those other things and all those other people; the people that hurt me and the people who weren’t there, because I was carrying those things as well. So I decided to talk about them and let it out and let them go. It’s like I released them. Now I’m carrying around this burden of my son and how they treated the situation. It’s my mission to get justice.
EM: Yes ma’am, thank you.
You not only tell his story in your book, you go into telling a lot about your life and it reminds me of the story with Jesus and his mother where you can’t talk about Jesus without talking about the circumstances surrounding his birth and with his mother and her circumstances. When people see the cover of the book they’re expecting to only hear about your son, Mike Brown. The unexpected and pleasant surprise is that you also share your life with us as well. Why was it essential? What do you pray the readers will gain in understanding you both?
LM: I had him at 16 years old, and as I matured and he got a little older, I went through relationships. Going from a young girl to a lady to a woman and having more children, things went on in my life, and I had to base my decisions around the fact that I did have a son and then I had a daughter and then another son. I had to draw people into my everyday life to let them know why my decisions were made, why I did what I did, why my son was at his grandmother’s. I had to explain those things. That was a part of the release for me too, because it was just so much out there.
It was more in the city that I come from, and everybody doesn’t know that, because everybody doesn’t live here. And it’s still a lot of tension, because me and his father aren’t together. He does his thing for his son’s foundation, and I do what I do for his foundation. People still have questions. He’s gone publically and said things also, so that was another part that I was fact-checking for people like, this is what really happened. When you put things in black and white it’s pretty much official. That’s why the title goes so well with book. It is a true story.
I wanted some of the people involved in my life, that should have done more at the time, to understand my feelings and why I may have done what I did and made those decisions or moved on or stayed or didn’t tell them. A lot of people didn’t know I went through what I went through. Of course with my mother and father, I tried to hide those things from them and hide those things from my children and not show them my weaknesses but only my strengths. It was eye-opening not only for people who didn’t know me that had been looking at me from afar, but also for people who thought they really knew me that were around me every day but didn’t know what was really going on with me.
EM: Yes ma’am. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that there’s power in a testimony and in transparency, and I definitely see that in your book. It takes a great deal of courage to come out and talk about those things and put it out before the entire world to see.
LM: Oh yes!