Amid the unrest that has followed the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer, Iyanla Vanzant decided to visit Ferguson, Mo., feeling compelled to listen to a community dealing with outrage, pain and grief. Arriving in the city less than two weeks after the teenager's death, she began her journey with a visit to Brown's street memorial. With an emotional prayer, Iyanla paid homage to the slain teen and those before him, and expressed the intention of her visit.
"I come here with an open heart. To interrupt the pattern. I'm not coming because I know. I don't know. But together, I think we can all find out," she said. "I promise you: This need not be."
During her 36-hour trip to Ferguson, Iyanla met with local citizens, protesters, community leaders, school board members, elected officials, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson and Brown's great-uncle, pastor Charles Ewing. While Rev. Ewing spoke about his family's search for answers, Chief Jackson asked the community to give the legal process a chance to play out. Though he said it was in the hands of the prosecuting attorneys, Chief Jackson asked for at least 14 days to get things started.
Iyanla immediately worked to gather local young people, mothers, school board members, pastors and elders to organize a call to action. She asked everyone to participate in a "14-Day Peace Challenge," to hold the peace for 14 days as the lengthy administrative process starts.
Living up to her promise to listen, she gathered 13 young men who had been on the front lines of the protests -- a few who said they were gang members -- to share their experiences. As they spoke of neighborhood tensions, their fears and struggles, Iyanla listened intently, then spoke herself.
"I'm here because I failed you. I failed you when I got busy and stopped teaching in my kitchen, in my basement. When I stopped making my rounds to junior high schools and high schools. And I failed to keep my responsibility as an elder to usher the younger ones up," she said. "So, I'm here to ask for your forgiveness. I'm here to support you in learning how to use your power wisely. I'm here because I don't want another one of you to be shot. I don't want another one of you to be demoralized and handcuffed and dragged off to prison. I don't want that."
What she wanted, she told them, is for everyone to find a peaceful way to express their pain and stop the violence in their own community. She then asked the 13 men for their help in spreading the word of peace in Ferguson. The best way to do that was to go to the heart of the protests.
That night, Iyanla headed to the place where conflict has been so prevalent since Brown's death, among armed officers and security checkpoints. The scene was intense.
Iyanla finally met up with her 13 "community warriors" in the only approved assembly zone. A crowd gathered, and one of the 13 men pled with the other protesters to focus on peace.
"They're asking us for 14 days to stop looting, violence and everything so they could basically speed up the process with the case. We're asking right now if we can give them their 14 days," the young man said. "Those that are out here for the wrong reasons, throwing rocks or causing problems: We're not behind y'all with that. We're not behind with the looting. This is history."
On her last day in Missouri, Iyanla organized a rally for peace and shared her final thoughts with the people of Ferguson.
"You all have got to come together... Find collective voices. 'Here's our plan.' Pause so you can get clear. We're asking for 14 days of peaceful protests," she said. "Justice is going to take time. It's not going to happen next week. What are you going to do then? Participate. Raise money. Gather the youth. One thing at a time. You can do this. But you've got to talk to each other. And if you can't talk to each other, nobody's going to listen to us."
"Iyanla: Fix My Life" returns with new episodes on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.