Michael Mayfield had only played the baritone horn for about a year as a member of the Edmondson-Westside High School marching band. But he took to the instrument so quickly that of the two scholarships he had been offered by different colleges, one was for band.
Mayfield was murdered on April 16, gunned down as he left the home of his uncle in West Baltimore, a senseless act believed by those who knew him to be a case of mistaken identity. As his experience with the baritone horn would suggest, Mayfield leaves behind a legacy of excellence, remembered by members of the Edmondson-Westside community for his leadership, service to others, and a commitment to the non-violent resolution of conflicts.
“Everything he did he was the best at,” said Dara Calhoun, a school psychologist at Edmondson-Westside and co-coordinator of the peer mediation program in which Mayfield served as a student mediator.
Reading the list of Mayfield’s accomplishment, it is hard to argue with the sentiment. In addition to the band scholarship, Mayfield was considering another scholarship offer to play baseball, a sport in which he had excelled as a starting pitcher.
Mayfield was also the drilling ceremony commander for the Junior ROTC program at Edmondson-Westside, and had recently helped lead his fellow members to five trophies in a city-wide JRTOC competition.
A talented musician, star athlete, JROTC commander, and a peer mediator, Mayfield was also a student representative in the Edmondson Westside student government, and a youth leader with the Inner Harbor Project, “an organization dedicated to making the Inner Harbor a safe and inclusive public space for Baltimoreans, tourists, and businesses,” according to its website.
As a peer mediator, Mayfield would often identify conflicts among his classmates and take it upon himself to help bring about a peaceful resolution without the need for prodding from adults or school officials.
“He had just a willingness and a desire to help others. He always stood up for the underdog,” said Calhoun, who had grown so close to Michael that she affectionately referred to him as ‘son,’ while he referred to her as ‘ma.’
For Cheo Thomas, a senior at Edmondson-Westisde and a fellow JROTC member, Mayfield was “A person who was always there to help.
“If you needed any advice, you could go to Michael about it.”
Thomas described Mayfield as an outspoken young man who brought an energy to everything he did. To his fellow JROTC members, Mayfield was more general than soldier.
“Michael taught basically everybody, 100 to 200 people, everything about leadership, and drilling, and everything that had to do with Junior ROTC,” said Thomas.
According to Felicia Coffield, a social worker and co-coordinator with Calhoun of the peer mediation program at Edmondson-Westside, Mayfield was one of only three students out of a class of over 200 that had already completed all requirements for graduation.
“When he puts his mind to something he does it and he does a great job,” said Coffield.
Mayfield, dedicated in life to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, will soon be laid to rest, a victim of the violence that continues to afflict Baltimore City and which took, in Mayfield, another random victim. The family has chosen to keep the funeral details private.
“I hope that his story just motivates folks, even within their own communities, to just really take a stand on gun violence and conflict resolution,” said Calhoun, adding, “that’s what he stood for, that’s what he was all about: how can we handle this in a peaceful way?”
Thomas would agree. Speaking about Mayfield’s commitment to JROTC, band, and mediation, Thomas said, “The best way to honor him is to take his love and dedication for those things and keep moving forward with it.”
Coffield has set up a website where donations can be made to assist Mayfield’s family with the high costs of a funeral no one ever anticipated. So far, a little over $3,700 has been raised toward the $10,000 goal.
Anyone interested in making a donation can do so at http://www.gofundme.com/8g9ynk
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