Remembering and honoring the legacy of Athumani Brown

Love is one of the most powerful emotions we experience. It inspires artists to create, it causes enough conflict to declare war, and it transcends all human experience — from the beginning to the end. In essence, love is putting others’ needs ahead of your own. Love can be another source of light in dark times.

With his giving and empathetic nature, Athumani Brown loved truly and deeply, and his mere presence sparked love in those around him. Because his love was so true, he inspired his friends, family, classmates, and teachers to focus on the positive and look for new ways to love. Many of us forget that there is more than just romantic love, and we can look to Athumani’s kindness and passion to help us love even in hard times.

As those he left behind struggle to fill the hole he left, and I reflect on the sudden and tragic loss of a truly good life, his family, teachers, principals, and friends have asked all of us to honor Athumani by living a life more like the values he embodied: peace, love, and community. This way, we can maybe all bask in the light he left rather than turning towards the dark.

Before we can look anywhere else, we must first learn to love ourselves. Athumani’s confident and warm smile reminded everyone that he knew who he was and loved himself. But many of us have a hard time looking inward, sitting with our true selves, and finding love. All too often, we are our own worst enemies instead of our own loudest cheering squad. We are fast to find fault, but slow to give praise. If we seek to love at all, we must be more loving to ourselves. Find the attributes that shine and the actions that sparkle. Highlight those and find your own worth and love.

Then we can begin to love our experiences. Those who cannot love what they do live a dull existence. Children are good at loving what they do. They build a tower of blocks or dig a hole or climb a tree and they are deeply passionate about whatever they are currently engaged in. Adults lose that immediate love and connection to tasks and activities. As we grow up, life becomes more about the finished product than the process. And if we’re always only judging our products, it is hard to love the journey to complete them. We must strive to take a breath, take a beat, and find love and passion for all that we do.

And I’m not just talking about loving your job. We get hung up on that notion as well — “Find a job you love!” we’re told. And if you love your job, that is great. It is one more outlet for love in your life. But we can do a job well, and also find love in endeavors outside of our careers. We can find activities and hobbies that strike a match within us and ignite a passion to pursue something we love. Athumani was a talented and passionate athlete. Sports was another outlet for the outpouring of love Athumani gave to the world. We would all do well to find something to throw our hearts into. Love for what we do encourages us to wake up excited to start each day as we look forward to more time spent pursuing our passions.

Finally, we can love others. Athumani’s friends and family could bask in the deep love he felt for those around him. When we love others, we uplift them. What’s more, we open ourselves up to being loved in return. This can be a vulnerable position, but when we truly love ourselves and have found other outlets for our passion, we can love others without expecting anything in return. We can, in turn, appreciate what others do and love other people’s processes and products.

When we love ourselves, love what we do, and love others, we are sending a positive passion out into the world. We are fighting against hate and negativity. We are strengthening our bonds with our families, friends, and communities. We are allowing the love we feel for people we’ve lost to grow, reverberate outward, and echo through time. Love is powerful, and it is another important way to remember people who have touched our lives, like Athumani. Our love for those we have lost allows their memories to live on and continue to impact the world.

As part of the memorial service for Athumani Brown, his school principal and family asked us all to reflect on how we could better live some of the values he exemplified: peace, love, and community. This post is the second in that series of three.

To donate directly to the Brown family through Athumani’s school’s website please click here.

In lieu of flowers, the Brown family respectfully requests that your generosity may be leveraged to impact the next generation of Montessori scholars; locally or internationally. The children are our future. You may make a donation, in Athu’s honor, to:

Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School

Teach for The Gambia



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Dara Laine Murray

Dara Laine Murray


Convener, lover of bringing folx together, passionate about womxn succeeding in business, and focused on equity & continuous improvement.