Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Michael Slager, the ex-South Carolina police officer accused of shooting and killing Walter Scott, who was unarmed at the time, back in April of 2015. If convicted, Slager could be sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for Scott's murder.

The spotlight has shined on police shootings of unarmed black men in recent years. This all started with Michael Brown. Some witnesses say the 18-year-old was shot six times and killed by an officer while he had his hands up in the air.

Others say he was moving toward the officer at the time. But a grand jury's refusal to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, set off torrents of protests. For UMass Boston professor, David Patterson, those protests hit particularly close to home.

Even though Patterson has been teaching music at UMass Boston for over 4 decades, he’ll always be a son of Ferguson. So when the nation turned its attention to his home in August of 2014, it was a shock.

“All I could say to my wife was, ‘That can’t be Ferguson,’ said Patterson. “And then I followed the news and I followed the replay and this happening and that happening. And in a way, I was being brought into the times more than I knew because I wasn’t aware of all of this change.”

The national attention focused on the place where he grew up was a wake-up call for Patterson, who set out to write a music suite, titled, #Ferguson.

“I wanted to say something about my growing up there. It was an all-white city. We would see just a few blacks. And then the now came into my mind. Well, what do we do about the now?” Patterson said.

#Ferguson is a 23-minute suite in response to Michael Brown’s death. It’s also a personal odyssey cataloging Patterson’s relationship with his hometown. 

The title of each scene in the suite notes a time and place in Ferguson, the first half made up of scenes from Patterson’s home, classroom, and church-- capturing the innocence and mystery of youth.

“Mystery and wonder—a little boy who doesn’t know what’s going to happen 50 years later,” Patterson said as he played select measures from the first three scenes.

Then comes the fourth scene, titled “8/9/14,” the day Michael Brown was fatally shot. Patterson refers to that day as the “cataclysm.” It’s the splintered midpoint of #Ferguson. The scene ends with notes from the earlier scene of his childhood.

“But of course, with a dissonance and a changed mind about that garden,” Patterson said.

As a white man in his mid-70s, Patterson understands that his lens of Ferguson and the world is different from that of a black man’s, but that doesn’t detract from his attachment to the jazz and bebop he listened to and played as a young musician in Ferguson. Patterson says it’s why he goes to his music.

“I think of the hours that I’ve spent listening to their-- if I may say it that way, their art, their folk, their culture, that they can put so many different ways through their music,” Patterson said.

"Maybe it sounds somewhat incredible but I feel so attached to that world to the point that I feel guilty and I don’t know really what to do with that. My ancestors really took the Northern side, yet this is something we all played a role in somehow down the line.”

After "8/9/14," what can only follow is “The Ferguson Blues,” which has elements of W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” woven throughout. Patterson follows this with the 6th scene, “W. Florissant Avenue March,” a protest march “searching for a resolution.” 

In the final scene, Patterson ends on a note of hope with “Hands Up, Let’s Pray,” a closing hymn for this musical journey through a changing landscape.