A YEAR LATER: A look at what's changed, what we've learned, and the road ahead.

By Jeannette Cooperman, Rosalind Early, Brian Heffernan, Jarrett Medlin, William Powell, Alvin Reid, Stefene Russell, Lindsay Toler, Timoshanae Wellmaker, Tim Woodcock, DJ Wilson, and Madeline Yochum



Ferguson Timeline: How events unfolded over the year


5 Things Ferguson Taught Us

A Memorial For Mikey

A plaque now marks the site where unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by then police officer Darren Wilson. A photo of the 18-year-old in his high school graduation cap and gown peers from the plaque. But for months, a memorial for Brown was anything but permanent.

Just a day after his death last August, the first makeshift memorial—designed to cover his blood on the street—sprang up. Soon, though, there were reports that police officers had driven over it and a police dog was allowed to urinate on it. Then, a day after Christmas, witnesses reported an automobile running through the growing mass of flowers, signs, and stuffed animals. Volunteers hurriedly reconstructed the memorial. Later, a tree planted in a Ferguson park as a memorial was vandalized, and a nearby marker was stolen.

Finally, on May 20, volunteers came together to remove the makeshift memorial so it could be replaced with a more lasting one. On that spring day, Michael Brown Sr. said, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how I can help other young men to go forward in life.”

Today, the plaque that commemorates his son’s life reads, “I would like the memory of Michael Brown to be a happy one. He left an afterglow of smiles when life was done.” It's still standing. (Photo by Kevin A. Roberts)

The Next Chapter

It was September 8, 1998, and like most St. Louisans, 11-year-old Amy Randazzo had her eyes glued to the TV. Mark McGwire had just hit his record-breaking 62nd home run for the Cardinals, and Randazzo crowded into the small meeting room of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library to watch the ball soar into the left-field stands.

Sixteen years later, Randazzo would return to her hometown library after watching a different kind of history unfold on television: protesters marching, police throwing tear gas, rioters burning down a gas station. The unrest that closed schools and businesses also shone a national spotlight on the small library that stayed open to shelter, feed, and support neighborhood families. Donations poured in, doubling the library’s budget and funding an otherwise-unlikely opportunity for Randazzo: a full-time job at the library she’d grown up in.

“I’ve been amazed at the generosity of complete strangers,” says Randazzo, who started as the children’s services and programming librarian in March.

The library’s work earned it the 2015 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year award.

“The people coming through our doors are basically my neighbors,” Randazzo says. “The services we provide enrich our community, just like every library in every community. But being a resident of Ferguson makes me doubly aware.”