21 People Told Us Why They Thought It Was Important To Attend A Black Lives Matter Protest
"I march because I want my children to know that it's OK for them to be heard. I march because this has got to stop."
1. "As a little girl, my mother was brave enough to wake up each morning and walk to a school filled with people who didn't want her there, and through neighborhoods where people tried to run her and other black children over. As a child, she endured the blatant hatred of others so that I wouldn't have to. So, I'm marching for her. I'm marching and protesting for them, just like they did for us and future generations."
2. "The simple answer is because black lives matter. But the long answer is because I'm black, and even though I’m tired, my ancestors didn’t march, get chased by dogs, hosed down, lynched, arrested, and enslaved for nothing. My ancestors endured, so I can too. A change needs to happen in this country right now, so I will protest and protest and PROTEST until things change."
3. "Because I felt scared and unsafe after George Floyd's murder. It could have happened to me, my brother, or my father. The ones who are supposed to protect us aren't, including that man in office who doesn't care about our lives. Hearing George Floyd call for his mother during his last moments haunts my thoughts. He was a person and a loved one to his family and that's enough reason to march. He didn't deserve that. It's a disgusting crime."
4. "I’m a middle school history teacher of mainly black students, and my kids are traumatized. There are no words for what it feels like to watch people who look like you be publicly executed on global platforms, and then watch their murderers walk away without consequence. I went to the protests because I have to give voice to their fears and frustrations. I have a responsibility to advocate for them, and to ensure they'll have a more equitable and just future."
5. "My stepson, Elijah Clayton, was killed in Jacksonville at the EA Sports gaming tournament. He was one of the happiest black men I knew, and he died at the hands of an angry white man over a video game. I will never forget the way my son cried that day when he called to tell me his brother was killed. My family and I are still healing from that while trying to make sense of the murders of so many other innocent black men and women.
My son is 23 now and in law school, and my daughter is 9. I march because she is too young, and I am too scared to let my son participate because of the color of his skin. I wake up every morning and go to bed every night praying that when I call him, he will answer the phone. I march because I want my children to know that it's OK for them to be heard. I march because this has got to stop."
6. "My Islamic religion teaches us that we must stand up against injustice and aid the oppressed wherever we're able. My parents also risked everything they had to immigrate to the US from Syria because of the American ideals of liberty and justice for all. They didn’t come here for this oppressive bullsh*t. And as a lawyer, I took an oath to uphold justice, and protesting is a large part of that."
7. "As a military service member, I cannot be seen at a protest, I cannot be political, and I must remain impartial. However, I cannot stand by and watch from the sidelines while black people are ruthlessly murdered at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them. My service will mean nothing if the country I'm serving turns a blind eye to the police brutality black people suffer from on a daily basis.
There needs to be a change, and I want to stand beside those who deserve that change in the fight for their freedom. I have not suffered the way black people have suffered for centuries, and I will leverage that privilege and any power I have to protect the safety black people deserve. That is why I protest."
8. "I have listened and heard the call for justice from black people. I am a trauma nurse. Every night, I'm packing a bag of medical supplies, a small cooler of ice packs, and plenty of eye wash. While black people raise their voices, I will stand with them and care for the wounds being caused at the hands of militarized police. Sitting idle and staying silent helped no one. I never dreamed I would be a field medic, but if this is how I can help, then I will be there every single night until they arrest me."
9. "When I was 5 years old, my white mom from Texas married my black dad from the Ivory Coast. My family has experienced countless acts of racism, even in areas that are supposedly so 'forward-thinking.' When I see black people being treated differently by law enforcement, I see my family. Every day I think about what might happen, and how afraid I am for my younger brother and sister. I march for my father, my brother, my sister, and the entire community."
10. "The black community stood by the Asian community when we were facing racial injustice because of COVID-19, so it's our duty to stand by them when they're facing injustice. Black lives do and will continue to ALWAYS matter. We need to show solidarity and support, and amplify their voices."
11. "I live about three miles from where the police killed George Floyd. The police who were supposed to protect my community failed before my eyes. I had so much anger, I knew I needed to do something as a white, middle-class female. Unfortunately, black people rarely have a voice, so I thought I’d use mine to amplify theirs."
12. "I’ve argued, debated, and discussed this topic on social media and in real life with family, friends, and strangers for years. Attending a BLM protest was the first time I could actually, physically, show up for the black community of Chicago (and the world). It’s important to listen to black people, and that’s what I got to do. I sat in a crowd of hundreds who were silent, listening to the pain that I know I’ll never experience.
If the simple action of walking down a street, shouting George Floyd’s, Breonna Taylor’s, and Ahmaud Arbery’s names could show the black community that they are not alone, then it was the LEAST I could do. Black people have been oppressed for their entire existence in this country. This matters more than anything else right now."
13. "Our people were brought here, traded, sold, raped, and killed just because we were born with beautiful skin. People need to wake up and see that racism is alive and well today — if you're white or a non-black person of color, please say something. You have a good chance to be heard by other people, and might help even one person understand. Racism is learned, so teach the next generation to be above the hatred."
14. "I felt like it was important to go despite the coronavirus risks because police brutality against black bodies is just as threatening to their lives as the pandemic. I am not in an at-risk group, nor do I live with anyone in an at-risk group, so I made the personal decision to show up at these protests and stand up for what’s right."
15. "As a minority, I understand what it feels like to not have a voice, and I think it’s important to give others a platform to feel like their voices matter. I wanted to make a difference in my community, and, for me, there was no better opportunity to do this than protest for the Black Lives Matter movement. As someone in an interracial relationship with a black man in America, it's my duty as a significant other to protect and combat against the injustices directed towards him and the black community."
—Annie Love, Facebook
16. "I'm a mixed-race person, and I've had my unfair treatment of racism. I need no further encouragement for protesting."
17. "There is only one right side of history here and that is standing with #BlackLivesMatter. I have friends who fear going outside and encountering white supremacists because they are black, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I already knew how corrupt and racist our government was, but this movement has further demonstrated to me the tremendous amount of money utilized by the government to lift up white supremacist ideals.
I march because I believe that I, like everyone else, have the responsibility to fight for human rights, which in this case means fighting for black lives."
18. "My friends and family know me as the first person to say or do something without hesitation. I don't grow tired, but it's disheartening addressing racism in Fairfield County in Connecticut, and I've always believed in the Black Lives Matter movement. So, when my black friends said they were tired and they weren't here to educate, and that it wasn't their responsibility to end racism, I stepped up. I believe we all need to proactively dismantle systemic racism."
—Nicole Rincon, Facebook
19. "I march for the end of police brutality, for the lives of those lost, and for my own black family members. We shouldn’t be scared for their safety, and they shouldn’t have to worry about being killed because of their race."
20. "I'm a high school teacher where minorities make up the majority of the students. I am protesting to show my students that, yes, you DO have the power to change things, and to never be afraid to stand up for what's right. So while I may never understand what my students go through on a daily basis, they'll know that I'll always stand up for them and be beside them."
21. "With everything that happened to George Floyd and others before him, I felt it was my duty to do something. The fear and pain I felt was somehow turned into passion, which allowed me to come up with a plan. Along with six other people, I helped organize a protest group called Justice For Brunch, because we all agreed our fear had to be used for something inspiring. I joined this protest group so my voice would encourage others to speak up during a hopeless time. At the end of the day, it was my duty as a black man to step up for the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s why we protested."
—Tim Frazier, Facebook
Note: submissions have been edited for length/clarity.