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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!
EM: The whole platform of Hurt2Healing is for people do that. Many will submit their stories and talk about their pain and their journey to overcome it to share with others. I know that your story is needed to help other women, other mothers, anyone who may be struggling. I thank you and congratulate you on releasing this book.
I first heard about it via EBONY magazine and the interview that you did. Immediately I began looking for it! I don’t know if that was the first interview you did debuting the book, but what has the response been like since publishing and releasing it?
LM: Oh God, it’s been good and it’s been bad. They attacked me so bad on Amazon where people started coming back at them saying, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You haven’t even read the book”. People thought that the book was going to be about August 9th. For me, I didn’t look at the negative part about it. It was like a weight had been lifted in a certain area. I had already made my peace with everybody that I included in the book, and they knew what I was going to speak about even when it came to the abuse.
What I want you to know is that although people all over the world are reading this, it affects me more of how the people I talk about in the book respond to it, and that’s just a handful of people. Only one person that I speak of is pretty bitter. I just think that they never really wanted me to put it out there; what happened and what they did to me. But I need them to understand. Eventually she’ll come around. It’s okay. I took it as a good thing, because if I felt that it was going to hinder me or lower my spirit I would have never done it. If it can be a blessing or a help to any woman or anybody, I’m grateful.
I want people to know that when you’re young and going through stuff and you think your elders don’t know what they’re talking about or they’ve never been through this stuff, you’ve got to open up and talk to somebody. You have to find some help and take that advice.
I get it that it’s hard and people are threatening you. That is difficult to get away from, but if you never say anything no one will ever know. Some people may minister or mentor to people and they never tell them where they’ve been or where they come from. They just talk about where they are now. I just wanted them to know that I’m not perfect. I’ve been through some things, I’ve overcome those things, I’ve persevered through those things and I outgrew those things. You can do it too. Nobody’s perfect. No one does 100 percent right. Everybody lives so differently. There’s so many different religions and so many different groups and so many different races, you know? There’s so many different things that people do differently, but there’s a right and a wrong to all of those things.
I just thank God when I look back at what I’ve been through, what I’m going through now and all the jobs that I’ve had and I just feel like, “Should I do this or do that…?” This is what He wants me to do right here. He wants me to stand up against this police brutality that happened to my son. He wants me to be a voice for him and be a voice for others. I always had a big mouth anyway (laughs), so I guess that’s what my purpose is. I’m going to accept it. I didn’t want to accept it at first, you know, but I’m going to accept it (tearful).
EM: Yes ma’am and know that you are not alone in this. Another thing that I appreciate in your book, that you just touched on, is that you talk about yourself in such a personable way where people can relate to you. You had me cracking up when you talked about your favorite song by the 69 Boyz “Daisy Dukes” (laughs)!
EM: I was like, “Oh my God, we’re the same age! We listened to the same music”! And the Rolo gold tooth! (laughs)
LM: (Laughs) Oh my God!
EM: I was like, “This is my sista right here”! Girbaud jeans! I was like, “She is taking me back”!
EM: I think that is such a beautiful thing to give to people; that side that they know and feel and relate to. You’re absolutely right, we go through things and experience things, and sometimes if we don’t know that we have another person who can relate to us we fall into despair or feel we can’t talk to anyone. But you give that part of yourself, it seems, so effortlessly. The different issues you mention such as the gossip from other girls and the fights at school…I mean, girls go through things in life like that but there’s not enough people sitting down with them sharing what they went through, how they overcame it and some of the things they had to experience to get to where they are.
EM: I thank you so much for giving that part of yourself. Your book had me on like 16 different emotional roller coasters.
EM: It’s so real! Down to the way it is written. It’s like you’re talking to me, just us and you’re telling me about what you went through like it’s nobody but you and I. That is such a rare quality in a person to be able to do that in a book form. Thank you for this book!
So with that said, back to your excitement to Houston! What are you looking forward to during your visit to Houston?
LM: Oh wow! You know what, I don’t know! When I go somewhere for the first time I’m just so excited. I wait to see what it’s going to be like and when I get there it’s like my nerves just burst out! (laughs) So I’m kind of on edge.
I don’t do many things by myself. So here it’s like the focus is all on me. I was really bad at it in the beginning, because I had gotten a lot of hate-mail from people, so I was scared to talk to an audience, because I didn’t know who was in the audience. I just gave it to God Ebony, and said I’m covered and He’s counting my steps. This is what He wants me to do, so this is what I’m gonna do. I’m not gonna look at the evil stuff. I’m not gonna even look at.
EM: You will have a sisterhood here! Know that for sure! And we’ll cover you too, we got you!
EM: You have the MGT of the Nation Of Islam and we’ll kill concrete for a sister, so you are covered no matter what!
With that said, my last question: What other cities are on your list to visit next?
LM: After Houston, I’m coming back to Texas to Austin. Then Seattle. So far I’ve been to New York. I’ve been to Washington. I’ve been to L.A. I’ve spoken in St. Louis as well. I’ve been to a few places, but the book is everywhere.
EM: Well if the book is everywhere, you are everywhere.
LM: Oh my God! (nervous laugh)
I just want to let you know how much I appreciate you and what you all do for me, my son, for his message and his legacy.
EM: All praise is due to Allah! It’s an honor Sis. This is what we do. I appreciate your time, and I look forward to meeting you when you arrive!
LM: I can’t wait! I am so excited!
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