A Moving Tribute: Writing Style Captures the Heart

DeRay Mckesson writes a tribute to honor Jordan Edward’s life in August of 2017. Jordan Edwards was shot and killed by police officer Roy Oliver in Balch Springs, Texas in April of 2017.  After an eventual trial, Oliver was sentenced to fifteen years in prison and a $10,000 fine – he will be eligible for parole in seven and a half years.  Although Jordan’s family did view the sentencing as a victory, they were frustrated that the mandated jail time wasn’t longer. The case has brought up the very pressing issue of police brutality, particularly against African Americans. 

Mckesson addresses Jordan in a letter, the most personal type of communication, as if Jordan will be able pick it up and read it tomorrow. He opens, “love makes a demand of us when it is witnessed.” Pleading with Jordan to understand the severe effect of his loss on his loved ones, he communicates to us, the impact Jordan had on the world he left behind. The shooting occurred while Jordan was in a car with his two brothers, whom he had attended a party with. Upon seeing the weapon that ultimately ended his life, Jordan screamed “duck!” offering his brothers an opportunity to avoid being shot. In that split-second Jordan chose to sacrifice himself for the ones he loved. He “made a commitment to save,” even though it was not himself he was trying to save. Jordan made a selfless decision in that moment and will forever be remembered for his pure heart.

Mckesson’s letter continues to preach that a love like this is a love forever cherished. The feeling of something “so powerful that it liberates us” is not easily forgotten. It is unconditional, undying, humbling. We, as sympathetic readers, can learn from Mckesson’s personal communication with Jordan. We can learn, through these words, to truly appreciate the value of one moment spent with loved ones. To “follow through on commitments” and do unto others as they would to you. To appreciate and benefit from the kindness of others and reciprocate the gesture. The most important lesson, if there is any acceptable lesson to take away from a death, is to appreciate life. The life we have, the lives of others, the fact that we are living and have the opportunity to live however we choose. That is the most taken for granted, yet most cherishable thing there is.