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Remembering Travontae Brown

ISAAC is a respectable, responsible, caring group of people who help to lead Kalamazoo in the right direction! They have also helped me get onto the road of success! -Travontae McFerrin-Brown, 2016 Phoenix High School Graduate and KVCC Student

Elder Douglas King, What Happens When…

What happens when the promise of a young man is tragically cut short

What happens when the promising plans for this man it seems we must abort

What happens when a young man shows such promise, potential and skill

What happens when this young man shows that the cup of promise he can fill

What happens when this young man has so many visions and dreams

What happens when that for every reason he has great promise it seems

What happens when a young man is pressing through our greatest fears

What happens when a young man’s promising future suddenly turns to tears

What happens when this amazing young man’s future is suddenly ended

What happens when it seems this gifted young man’s potential has been rescinded

What happens when a promising relationship somehow comes to a close

What happens when this amazing young man’s life is ended – nobody knows

What happens when the smile of purpose of this young man turns to a frown of despair

What happens when you realize that the giftings of such a man seem to be rare.

What happens when you pray for the purpose of this young man with all your might

What happens when your heart is broken and it seems that you’ve lost your fight

What happens when this young man’s purpose dies, but not the purpose for what we do

What happens when the death of this young man raises a new fight within you

What happens when the inspiration and life of this young man ignites an inner desire

What happens when the life and memory of this young man ignites a new passionate fire

What happens when the life of this young man breaks your heart and everything within you

What happens when you now realize that now more than ever is that we’ve got work to do.

Travontae will forever be missed but never forgotten. 

Dr. Charlae Davis, After hearing that our Brother Travontae was no longer with us, through tears and sadness, I started to remember.

Dear Brother Travontae,

I remember first meeting you, about 5 years ago (as a high school student). Dr. Warfield introduced you to an ISAAC Pastor and they introduced you to Elder King and me, because you already had a consciousness and love for justice.

I remember your smile and the way you would hold your hands together as you talked.

I remember you sitting there making real sociological connections of what was going on in the world.

I remember you wowing us adults during the Youth Violence Task Force Meetings with your knowledge and your social awareness.

I remember the heart to heart talks over dinners and lunches that you had with us ISAAC folks and your Aunt Artrella.

I remember meetings at your school as we planned, talked, and worked in partnership with your teachers and Principal Hill who loved and supported you.

I remember your graduation and how proud we were of you as you walked across the stage.

I remember the talks of college.

I remember those phone conversations where we verbally processed as you were figuring out the ups and downs of life.

I remember sitting at the hospital with you, Cherish and Aunt Artrella as you held your first-born baby and the way you looked at her with such love. I think you also said she was already trying to say “daddy” at 2 days old LOL.

I remember the pictures and videos of both baby girls who you loved so much!

I remember those conversations about the societal ills and microaggressions you were experiencing and trying to navigate because that is what we as Black folks do daily.

I remember the times you would tell me you loved me as your big Sis and I would reply, I love you too my awesome Bro!

I remember the wonderful people whose lives you touched and who we met through you!

I remember the wonderful young man you were and the way you loved your family, friends, and community.

I remember the call I got that you were gone, and I remember the tears flowing.

I remember seeing you laid to rest looking sharp as you always did.

I remember your great presence, your gifts, and the great plans you had to change our community for the better.

And you did!!

Bro, You did!

We are better folks because of YOU!

We remember you and always will. Rest my Brother, we love you!

Thank you Trella for sharing Travontae with us! Sending condolences, love and prayers to his girlfriend Cherish, his daughters, his Aunt Trella, his two Mothers, his Father and Family!!


Wendy Flora

When I first met Travontae several years ago, I was struck by his quiet, reflective, and observant demeanor.  He was a little shy and didn’t speak a lot.  When I got to know him a little better, the thing that I most remember is his smile.  Each time that I saw him, usually with his Aunt Trella, a bright light emanated from that smile.  Once he became a father, his eyes lit up whenever he spoke of his babies.  I am so sad that this beautiful soul has been taken from this world.  His potential was endless.  You will be missed Travontae by so many in this community.  God Speed my friend.  Your light shines on within your baby girls.  May God’s love cover them today and always.

Venessa Collins-Smith

A young soldier with the making of a King  – Gone To Soon!

Tami Rey

Travontae “Vontae” McFerrin

When I think about Vontae I think about a young man full of life, full of possibilities, very bright future, a father, a son, a brother, and friend!

Vontae and I officially met when he was involved in an incident where he felt that his rights had been violated. He reached out to me to assist him with filing a complaint. We met for lunch and talked for hours about various topics, we got so lost in conversation that we never discussed the complaint.

After our initial meeting we began to build what grew to be a friendship!  He was very smart, he knew his rights and exercised them because he could! He stood up for what he believed in and held others around him accountable for their actions. We did not agree on everything however he was teachable, he listened and adjusted accordingly!

He showed me why cultivating our youth is so important.

For the Black Men My Love Cannot Protect -Azariah Cole-Shephard

For the Black men my love cannot protect,

You are radiant. Your existence is the antithesis of their contentment, for the world is not prepared for you to succeed.

You are powerful.

I watched a video today of a man being murdered, my heart dropped.

I thought about Vontae. I thought about the bonding his baby girls will never again experience at the hands of bondage that took him forever.

Dear black man, that stark white smile shines like the stars, your lips curve like the crescent moon.

But every time I watch the night sky that is your face, the fear grows inside.

Your tomorrow ain’t promised. So today I tell you I love you. I feel you don’t hear that enough.



Miss Morales, Program Manager, Kalamazoo Promise Services, Kalamazoo Valley Community College

I had the privilege of serving Travontae and assisting him  with his transition from high school to college. During his tenure at Kalamazoo Valley, Travontae taught us accountability, inclusivity, as well as how to treat, support, and respond to young black men. He was an advocate for his peers and took the initiative to amplify their voices when necessary. I’m blessed to have served as his mentor, and witness his personal and educational growth as a Promise Scholar.

On behalf of Kalamazoo Promise Services and Student Success Services at Kalamazoo Valley, we send our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Travontae(Vont) Brown.

You will be missed.

Fly high my sweet boy.

Michael R. Collins, Executive Vice President for Enrollment and Campus Operations, Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Thanks to Monteze Morales, the Program Manager for Kalamazoo Promise Services at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, I was introduced to Travontae Brown, serving as a mentor helping him navigate the higher education environment. During this past year, Travontae grew to be a dedicated student driven to succeed. His confidence, maturity and work ethic were on the rise and he would have undoubtedly achieved positive outcomes on his educational journey. I feel a tremendous sense of personal loss and am praying for his family and friends.

Mrs. Abra Steppes

Losing Vontae at such a young age, and so suddenly, has been an unbelievably difficult thing to swallow for everyone who knew and love him.

His presence was the kind that left an impression, that lingered, that impacted you without him even trying to do anything special. He just was — special. He was fun, relaxed/collected, creative and thoughtful. If you were in his life, you knew he loved, valued, appreciated and was happy to see you. I met Vontae as a student in my 8th grade classroom, and had previously taught his brother, so I already had a connection with his family. He knew he could come to me for advocacy, for support and that I was there to listen and remind him of his potential.

We kept in touch over the years and connected for graduation celebrations, when seeing each other around town, and even catching up over lunch recently to talk about his baby girls, his music, and his thoughts about becoming an ABA Therapist while finishing up school.

He had such a bright soul and potential for a bright future. What happened to him is so unfair. His love, impact and presence will remain in our hearts forever.

We love and miss you, Vontae.


Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley Jr.

Hello to the family of Travontae, to his daughters I pray nothing but blessings upon their lives. To his parents, I pray God’s love and understanding to fill those tough days and nights. To his siblings many of whom I know personally please know God has little bro holding him tight.

Vonte and my children grew up together playing games and sports. He often came by to shoot some hoops with the fellas. Vonte and I always shared a moment often calling me for advice on life.

He wanted to open his own business one day. I know our God has him now, I pray the Lord’s love and Grace to his friends and family.

Michelle Wilsonbanks

I remember Travontae as a strong willed very intelligent young man. I recall one of the times he stayed after school and we had the best conversation about life and how he grew up and how I grew up. We talked for what seemed like hours about life, debating the necessity of “schooling” and why it was necessary that he complete high school and more. We bonded. We built trust. He did lots of Mathematics assignments after that…lol! Travontae had Hope and Promise. I will never forget him.

Jennifer Shea, YMCA Lincoln Youth & Family Director 

What many don’t know is Vontae has always thought bigger than just Kalamazoo.  He wanted so much more for himself and his family and was beginning to position himself to succeed.  He had just been accepted to Western Michigan University to obtain a Bachelor of Business Administration.  Everyone knows he loved fashion even if we didn’t agree with his “fashionable choices”, but what you don’t know is that he was planning on bringing a children’s clothing store to the Northside of Kalamazoo. He would always say “I have two girls, they need to match my flyness”.

Vontae would show up to the YMCA fully dressed to hoop, but everyone didn’t realize he was actually there for me to read his papers he had written or to look over his math.  We used to laugh all the time because he was such a smooth talker but he could figure out a way to smooth talk the math problems on the paper.

Everywhere you went on the Northside you could see Vontae.  He was always there to support local business such as Cookies Five Star Grill and Bill Play.  He was somewhat of a fixture in the area but what many don’t know is when the Pandemic hit he asked us to help distribute food throughout the community, he wanted to make sure the kids as well as the forgotten adults ate.

Vontae was always looking out for the community whether I called him to tell him I had a young man at Lincoln being bullied for his clothes or I just needed him to mentor someone he always showed up and he never asked for anything in return.

Everyone knew a different version of Vontae but no matter what version you knew of him you knew he was always going to be there to do whatever he could to make a difference in someone’s life.

Elder Chris Pompey
When I first met Vontae through the mentorship program, it appeared he was your normal at-risk youth.

After building a relationship with Vontae, it was clear he was gifted. He spoke about music, basketball and wanting to make a difference one day. He had the gifts, and was seeking the tools!

Pastor James Harris

Remembering Travontae (Vontae).
I send my condolences to Travontae Brown’s family. I remember Vontae as a very intelligent young man. Wisdom beyond his years and great aspirations. He impacted others. Others listened. And at times I felt I was the mentee. He was kind of faltering between two worlds which many young people do. Wanting to make the right choice. During the brief moment I knew him my hope was, I would plant a seed that would help him make the right choice. Gone way too soon!