Brown was shot six times by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
The service is set for 10 a.m. at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, where Brown’s uncle, the Rev. Charles Ewing, will eulogize the teen, whose death has set off protests and conversations about racial profiling and the militarization of the police. The church can accommodate 4,500 people and the arrangements are being paid for by Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation’s oldest black fraternity.
The Rev. Al Sharpton will also speak at the service, which is likely to draw a large crowd.
In addressing the teen’s death, President Obama pointed to his My Brother’s Keeper initiative as part of his strategy of addressing some of the issues raised by Brown’s killing.
“In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and seen only as objects of fear,” Obama said. “And through initiatives like My Brother’s Keeper, I’m personally committed to changing both perception and reality. And already, we’re making some significant progress, as people of good will of all races are ready to chip in.”
The five-year, $300 million initiative is an effort to improve the lives of young men of color, and has the backing of prominent sponsors, among them the NBA and the Discovery Channel.
Some have criticized the efforts for focusing on boys, when girls and young women often face the same difficult odds. Additionally, Obama has been criticized over his response to Ferguson, with some suggesting that the nation’s first black president hasn’t done enough to speak to the racial inequities that plague African Americans, even as many of his policies have addressed issues such as unfair sentencing.
In the wake of the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and the court case involving the shooter, George Zimmerman, Obama said that the country needed to find ways to help “young African American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed.”
Brown’s death has become a rallying cry, with activists, artists and citizens from across the country pouring into Ferguson, a black St. Louis suburb of 21,000, to express outrage and sympathy with the family. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Wednesday and vowed that the Department of Justice and the FBI, which have conducted some 200 interviews already, will conduct a thorough and independent investigation.