For Immediate Release
NAACP Official Statement on the Passing of #JusticeSummer Marcher Middle Passage
Spotsylvania County, Virginia - Middle Passage a 68 year old America's Journey for Justice marcher, veteran and Colorado resident, fell ill yesterday while leading the march and was not able to be revived. He carried the flag every morning since we began in Selma and marched 920 miles. Mr. Passage embodied what America's Journey for Justice is about. Our hearts are heavy. His memory and spirit will be with us as we finish our journey to Washington, DC.
In light of this tragic event, NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks wrote the following statement:
Yesterday, I watched a brave man die beside me holding our American flag. His name was Middle Passage, a name that both invokes a historical legacy of suffering while suggesting the aspirations of freedom by African-Americans. It was my forever-to-be-cherished honor to walk beside Middle Passage for hundreds of miles on America's Journey for Justice.
Across miles and memory, Middle shared beautiful stories about his family, his land, and the love of his life, Trish--stories bourn by the warmth of his spirit and the width of his smile.
Across the bustling and bucolic landscape of this country, I watched Middle fist and shoulder bump rabbis, law-enforcement officers, young people and people like so many of us who often cherish the kindness of another without even realizing the degree to which we need the warmth of our shared humanity.
I've always felt such a profound sense of patriotism watching Middle Passage carry our flag as an elder veteran and a youthfully spirited justice seeker on America's Journey for Justice.
I loved to hear Middle gently note the importance of both addressing racial profiling and reaching out to our brothers and sisters in blue – who behind their badges and guns are human beings like all of us. I well recall Middle saying to state troopers at the top of his voice at the top of the day, "show me some love"--and then giving them a strong shoulder bump.
Telling his family about his death on his beloved march was undoubtedly the most difficult responsibility I've undertaken as President of the NAACP. This responsibility, however, is infinitesimally small in comparison to the honor of walking beside this man for 920 miles--and walking in his legacy as we make our way forward on this journey for justice. This responsibility was also made manageable by our staff, who defined the word "leadership" in the dictionary of crisis.
We will carry the flag forward and complete this march.
Rest in peace, my brother.
Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.