On Monday, February 8th, we lost our beautiful brother and comrade MarShawn McCarrell. The symbolism of his choice to take his life at the front door of the Ohio Statehouse is not lost on us. He knew what was killing him, and us, and he would leave no mysteries. We fought alongside MarShawn to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Time and time again, as police gunned down more people in Ohio and across the nation we demanded change. We shut down malls, police stations, courthouses, and that very same statehouse. We didn't get justice or accountability from our elected officials when John Crawford, Tanisha Anderson, or Tamir Rice were killed. We were told to wait, or that we didn't have the facts, or that we were knocking on the wrong person's door. Our elected officials repeatedly told us they would stand by the system in place over our people. Like many before him, Marshawn gave his life to the Black freedom struggle, and we will continue to fight in his name.
MarShawn was a soldier for the liberation of all people. His spirit was effervescent with visionary beauty, creativity, and love. He marched 11 miles for justice for John Crawford, rallied at the Statehouse to defeat Stand Your Ground, and joined in protests to recognize violence against Black cis- and trans women. He built up Ohio Student Association into a strong grassroots organization with a presence across the state and a reputation across the country. He helped launch Freedom Side, a coalition of youth-led racial justice organizations modeled after the Civil Rights Era Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).
Marshawn started his own organization Pursuing Our Dreams, where he worked with young people on the West Side of Columbus to organize and support the community he grew up in. Every month, POD hosted Feed the Streets. They would make sandwiches to feed folks, and distribute winter clothing when it was cold. He was inspired by the traditions of the Black Panthers and Young Lords—Black and Chicano freedom organizations that knew fighting for the liberation of our people must include supporting the basic needs that our society denies us. We must do for each other, what the state and the society will not. He always reminded us of the importance of loving care for each other to our liberation.
MarShawn lived the commitments that many of us talk about every day. While he worked tirelessly to honor the dead, he lived every day for the living. He took on night shifts in order to organize during the day. While he led rallies and provided security at protests, he built alternative institutions to transform his local neighborhood. While he traveled the country to learn about and train others in social change, he worked with poor and working class folks in Columbus. Every day, he was grounded in the needs and demands of the struggle for freedom and liberation.
In the end, Marshawn said his demons won, and nothing could be more devastating. Those demons walk amongst us still but Shawn never will again. Within our own organization and the movements we are a part of we will always lift up the importance of mental health and taking care of each other. None of us are strong enough to go through this struggle alone. Collective care must replace self care, and, now more than ever, we must lean on one another for support.
Rest in Peace, Rest in Power, Brother. We love you. Your death is a painful reminder of the urgency of our cause. We believe that Black Lives Matter and we believe in Black Futures. We will continue your work to transform our society into one where each person’s intrinsic value is recognized. We will continue to fight all forms of injustice, as we work to build and feed our communities in every way. We will continue to fight for our people, from a place of love, humility, and urgency, as you always did.
The next Feed the Streets will take place on February 20 from 1-3 PM. Meet us to build MarShawn’s dream in the parking lot at 1539 W. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43222. You can also support the Legacy Fund his family has started in his name here: https://www.gofundme.com/marshawnmccarrel