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Teen dead days before college

He was supposed to start college tomorrow.

As I write this, I’m sitting in the MSNBC newsroom, prepping for the afternoon newscast, and I’m waiting for a press conference from the St. Louis County Police Department.  They are expected to give an update about the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black kid shot by police Saturday night in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis.

He was supposed to start college tomorrow.

We don’t know a lot at this point about why police opened fire.  Here’s what we do know:  Brown was unarmed, he was blocks from his grandmother’s house when he was shot, and it was a Ferguson police officer who shot him.

And, he was supposed to start college tomorrow.

After a heated protest in the neighborhood last night, police are asking for calm.  The outrage is understandable as this story reopens wounds not quite healed after recent high-profile cases of young, unarmed black men being gunned down.

We don’t know all the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death yet.  I will wait to hear all the facts.  But no matter what the facts turn out to be, the way I’m feeling won’t change because of one detail in particular that we already know:  he was supposed to start college tomorrow.

We talk so often about the plight of young black men in this country.  We emphasize the importance of education and urge them to stay away from violence.  There are people out there putting extraordinary effort into putting and keeping young black men on the right path.  That path often includes getting them into college.  I don’t know Brown’s journey, but somewhere along the line, someone did a good job with him and had him on the right track.

He was supposed to start college tomorrow.  That’s a cruel cosmic irony.