Mourners gathered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Tuesday, June 23 to honor the life of Rayshard Brooks in a private funeral service after he was shot and killed by a police officer on June 12.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta alum Phaedra Parks helped direct the funeral service for Brooks at the historic church where Martin Luther King Jr. served as co-pastor until his death in 1968. She reflected on being a part of such a meaningful event during a recent interview via video chat with ET. "That was a very heavy moment, but I was happy to serve the family, happy to have moments with his beautiful wife, his beautiful children and, just to be present," Phaedra said. "It’s just very heartbreaking to know there are now four young children that are… without their dad."
Brooks' wife, Tomika Miller, their children, and his family and friends were in attendance at the funeral, as well as Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, Rev. Bernice King, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and rapper T.I. "It was unbelievable how much support there was from the community. So just to see everyone come together, unify in our city, which is the Mecca of the civil rights movement. It was beautiful," Phaedra told ET. "So I was just happy I was able to serve the family and to be of service at the moment."
After the funeral, Phaedra said that she accompanied Brooks' family to the Wendy's restaurant where he was killed. "We took the casket and the flower cart and the entire family around the drive through -- the same place where fatal shots were fired," she recalled. "To be there with his beautiful [children]... to feel the power, the energy of them being able to release the hurt that they had from that tragic incident, it was very moving to me as a person of color. But as a mother, you know, it just gave me a whole new sense of purpose. Because we have to propel this movement. We have to have this conversation. We have to change policy, procedures, laws. We have to make sure that there is equality for everyone."
Phaedra rode in the car there with Brooks' widow where they shared "a very poignant conversation about this moment in time." "She said to me, 'I never knew that I would be in this place,'" Phaedra said. "And I turned to her and said that, 'This place is a place of purpose. A place of power. Because you’re now the face of an entirely new movement within the movement.'"
"She said, 'He had always talked about being well known and doing things that would change the world,' And I said, 'Sometimes we don’t reach true fruition unfortunately until we have left the world,'" Phaedra continued. "George Floyd started the movement. Rayshard added ember to the flame to make it even bigger."
For the latest reporting on the Black Lives Matter movement from NBC News and MSNBC’s worldwide team of correspondents, including a live blog with minute-to-minute updates, visit NBCNews.com and NBCBLK.
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