I stood over a coffin that should never have been built.
Looking at a motionless body.
A body of a sixteen-year-old kid.
A kid half my age.
Exactly half my age.
A kid who had been hit over the head with a 2×4 and knocked out. Knocked out so badly that his body became motionless. The motion of the camera phone that captured his motionless body was not motionless. It captured a moment of the history of the people of the United States Of America that exposed our deepest, most painful wounds.
We watched with horror the anger, rage, desperation, sadness and violence eluded by a group of our most precious valuables, our young people. We watched. We stood there watching. We couldn’t move while we watched, so we kept watching. We didn’t want to watch, but we didn’t want Derrion Albert to die, so we kept watching. And when his body became motionless, so did ours’.
I remember sitting motionless in the church where Derrion’s funeral service was held. I watched hundreds of people pay their respects to a motionless body in a motionless coffin. A coffin that should never have been built. While motion stood still, emotions traveled quicker than tears could stream down anyone’s face. The image of a beautiful, young child not wanting to leave the presence of Derrion’s motionless body, tugging at her daddy’s coat, wailing at the top of her lungs, barely able to hold up her wobbling legs…this image, this young lady, this moment, this emotional moment, this moment of absolute pain, will never leave the small archive that resides in my own memory bank.
It is a moment that I have taken with me over the past year, as I traveled the country and sat in many of churches looking at coffins that should never have been built. Watching little girls and little boys stare at motionless bodies and tugging on their daddy’s and mommy’s coats to just make the pain go away. Make the motionless have motion. Do what mommies and daddies do, make magic. Just for one moment, make Derrion, Aiyana, Kevin, Marquel, Robert, Charissa, Ibotoye, Dante, Tashawn, Torney, Anthony, John move one last time. Just one last time.
It has been one year. One year today. One year since we lost Derrion. One year since we began to wake up and realize that we must stop making coffins that should never have been built in the first place. One year of hardship, pain and sadness, yet through it all we have dug deeper inside ourselves to find the inspiration that we can and must do better.
For many in this beautiful country, beauty has disappeared. For those of us where beauty still shines, we have a tremendous responsibility to share whatever beauty we have left over. We must make a promise to Derrion and to the hundreds of other young peopl