For a young generation of men and women who have only read about the Civil Rights Movement in their history books, the recent protests in Ferguson, Mo., sparked a new conversation. Demonstrators continue to take to the streets of Ferguson to voice their outrage over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American man shot by a Ferguson police officer last August.
Among the protesters in Ferguson was Tim Norman, co-owner of the family-owned restaurant Sweetie Pie's in St. Louis. "For my generation, this is the first time we've experienced anything like this," Tim says. "I know I've seen things on television before, how it went during the Civil Rights Movements and the L.A. riots. It's still going on, it's not over with."
His mother, Miss Robbie Montgomery -- a woman who experienced the discrimination in the 1960s firsthand while traveling to clubs as a backup singer -- has a very different idea on how to handle civic unrest. Tim has been arrested in the past, and she fears the same thing will happen again, or worse. During the weeks leading up to the Brown verdict last November, cameras followed Tim and Miss Robbie on "Welcome to Sweetie Pies," a reality show following the close knit-family and their St. Louis restaurant chain.
"The thing that scares me about Tim being out on the protests is that Tim has a bad temper, and I know the least little thing can set him off," Miss Robbie says in the above video. "And I don't want to lose my son."
Tim says he can't ignore the protests when they're right in his backyard. "I feel like it's our job, our duty," he says. "I just feel like you don't understand."
Miss Robbie may not want her son participating in the protests, but she makes it clear that it's not for a lack of understanding. "I've been around through Emmett Till, Martin Luther King -- everybody they done lynch or killed," she says. "I've been around through all that. I understand."
"Don't tell me I don't understand," she continues. "Hell, you ain't have to go in the back door nowhere. You ain't sit your ass in the back of no bus. You didn't drink off no fountain that said 'black/white only.'"
"Did you do any of that?" Miss Robbie asks. "No. I have. So I know what it's about."
So when then, Tim asks, do we stop?
"It don't stop," Miss Robbie says. "And you out there ain't going to stop it. Something that's going to get you locked up."
While Tim is eager to be a part of a solution, the state of unrest outside their restaurant doors is far too familiar to Miss Robbie.
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