Ferguson, Missouri (CNN) — Mourners began lining up at a St. Louis church hours before Monday’s funeral of slain teenager Michael Brown. The line snaked around the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on a sweltering St. Louis morning.
Retired mail carrier Hilliard Phillips, who once delivered on the street where Brown was killed, was among the mourners. He said there’s power in numbers, and he hoped the outpouring of support for Brown and his family would spur society to take a look at itself.
“You can’t really overnight change the behavior of a person, but sometimes they can be coerced in a sweet way. … I would hope they could see people coming together in a solemn way to show their respect to someone,” he said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton was expected to deliver a eulogy discussing the “national view” of Brown’s death more than two weeks after he was shot to death by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer.
Before Sharpton speaks, the Rev. Charles Ewing will deliver a eulogy from the family’s perspective, according to a preliminary program provided by organizers.
Brown’s death on August 9 sparked days of sometimes violent protests in the St. Louis suburb and concern over race and police shootings across the country. In the past several days, things have calmed down, and the town is slowly coming back to life.
Among the guests expected to attend the service were Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Bernice King; the Rev Jesse Jackson; the families of Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell; and celebrities Spike Lee, Diddy and Snoop Lion.
The White House is sending three officials to the funeral, including one who attended high school with his mother.
One of them is Broderick Johnson, who leads the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. He’ll be joined by Marlon Marshall, a St. Louis native who attended high school with Brown’s mother, and Heather Foster. Marshall and Foster are part of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., called Sunday for a day of calm during the funeral.
“Please, please take a day of silence so I can, so we can, lay our son to rest,” he told a rally in St. Louis. “Please. It’s all I ask.”