Who's Who of Ferguson Protests: Leaders, Activists

Categories: Michael Brown

The Celebrities

Ferguson's meteoric rise to public interest compelled St. Louis' most famous natives to leave their mark, as well as the country's two best-known celebrity activists.

Jack Dorsey

Twitter-founder and St. Louis' favorite native-born billionaire arrived in Ferguson on Friday, and he has been live-tweeting and vining his way through the protests ever since. He's even found a new BFF in Alderman Antonio French.


Ferguson residents and protesters greeted Nelly with roses when the hip-hop star arrived Monday afternoon, and he reciprocated with a speech asking for the looting and violence to stop.

"We've got to understand that we have options, and stop choosing the reaction option, 'cause at the end of the day, we gonna pay -- our brothers are gonna be the ones in jail," said Nelly. "We don't want to deal with the reality, we just want to be so mad, that we got our own personal agenda."

Danny Wicentowski
Jesse Jackson addressed a crowd in the back lot of a local church on Saturday.
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson

Opinions diverge on the subject of Al Sharpton's and Jesse Jackson's respective visits to Ferguson last week. Neither man lacks for charisma or a sense of gravitas. For instance, when Sharpton took the dais at the Greater St. Mark Family Church he called upon "100 brothers" to join him before the congregation; he then asked them to commit their youthful energy to protecting the community, not destroying it. A few days later Jackson stood before different crowd at St. Mark's and asked God to "gracefully accept Mike into your loving grace...we who are left will tell the story."

Critics say both men are opportunists who milk tragedy for a few spotlights and then jet off to the next gig. Jackson managed to anger his crowd by asking them for $100 donations to the church, and Shartpon's mainstream-media presence makes some here suspicious of his motives. As one Ferguson man succinctly put it -- " We don't need them here.... They come out here, they shake a few hands, they go to the scene of the crimes, pray and go home. That's not solving nothing."

The Inexplicable

With a protest the size of Ferguson's, you're going to see some things that seem to defy explanation.

Danny Wicentowski
Thomas the Train made his grand entrance last week.
Thomas the Train
We first spotted Thomas the Train during the paradelike protest Thursday night, and his presence quickly went viral over social media. It returned Tuesday night with a sign proclaiming it the Peace Train, and the next day someone created a Twitter profile for the rolling, anthropomorphic locomotive.

Mitch Ryals
Well, Superman's hands are up, so it sort of makes sense. Sort of.
Black-Face Superman
As far as weird protest props go, this one takes the cake. Basically, there is a man who carries around this roughly two-and-a-half-foot-tall action figure of the Man of Steel with his face drawn over with black marker. We get strangely uncomfortable just looking at it.

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I'm just impressed with the way Obama has improved racial relations in this country. Almost as good as the way he improved health care.


Chappelle-Nadal is pure ghetto. No woman speaks like that unless they're scum like she is. We can easily guess who elected her to office! She's an absolute fool!

Judith Anthony
Judith Anthony

You left out the religious leaders like Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Renita Marie Lamkin and C Jessel Strong and the Clergy Coalition all of whom have been on the ground and serving peacefully since the first day. This story is incomplete.


Certainly, the number of groups absent from this list is at least as long as those present, and no one expects any article to mention or even discover them all. But, the absence of the Saint Louis based Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) from this article is very troubling.  OBS has been working on reducing police harassment and police brutality in the Saint Louis region for more than 30 years.  They arrived Day One to help put this troubling event in context and have never left.  OBS is not the only major organization missing from the article, just the most troubling because when this tragedy has cycled out of the news, OBS will still be here, as it has been since 1980, working on the issues raised by Mike Brown's death.


Additionally, there are vast scores of artists who do community outreach work and have been in the area each day I've been there. Several poets in my personal circle have made it a point to be a near constant presence, have organized protests and have worked at notifying hundreds of people on social network sites of what is transpiring in Ferguson.  We have put down our pens and took to the streets in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.  

David Biernbaum
David Biernbaum

The real question is who are the leaders trying to unify and bring all people together?

Nikki Weinstein
Nikki Weinstein

And the religious community leadership (adding to Kellie list)

Kellie Willis
Kellie Willis

But you've missed several local key organizations under the activist category who have played a MAJOR role: Organizationfor BlackStruggle Missourians Organizing for a Reform and Empowerment, CAPCR, IFCLA. I see some of their faces in some of the photos you've used. These folks again are local and have been on the ground in the St. Louis community for many many years. And we are in it for the long run!

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