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As I was signing books, my 12-year-old son and business partner, Tyler, was swiping credit cards and politely thanking patrons for their purchases. At probably around the same time, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden were getting word that their son had been killed. 

As I took photos with my dad and mom who were joyfully celebrating my big day, Mike Brown Jr.’s parents were finding it difficult to breathe as they absorbed a tragedy no parent should ever have to face. Their last happy moments with him are what has to sustain them as they face the rest of their lives without their firstborn child.

I just happened to be near Ferguson, Missouri the day of the shooting—a city I hadn’t thought about once since leaving St. Louis years ago. To be honest, even when I lived in Rock Hill, it wasn’t a place that I was very familiar with.

But when something happens that close to home, it proves how connected we really are to our communities and how much they mean to us. I didn’t have my book signing in Rock Hill, where I grew up. I had my signing in St. Louis, where Black people who support me and the Tom Joyner Morning Show live and work.

After such a horrible tragedy, it’s time for everyone to find ways to stand up for the cities and communities that have been there for us. It’s funny how our past has a way of catching up with us, both in a negative and positive sense.

No matter how far we roam, there’s a place somewhere filled with people who are ready to embrace us. We should never take either for granted. As we were reminded once again, the next time we see them could be the last.

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St. Louis: A City With Two Tales  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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