I watched young people protest this weekend. I saw them heading determinedly to their destination, their signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” or “Defund the Police.” I wondered where they were going and watched them join a growing group gathering near Buckingham Fountain.
The next day I heard the young people before I saw them. From my balcony I watched as they made the turn on the street in front of my building. There were less than one hundred; their efforts to responsibly maintain a safe social distance made them easy to count. They were almost outnumbered by the police.
In the tradition of protest in this country since its inception, the leaders of the 2020 protests have been young, impatient and passionate. For me, their protests were fitting tributes honoring two civil rights icons who started their activism as young men.
Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian participated in his first nonviolent protest, a lunch counter sit-in as a young man of 24.
John Lewis was 23 when spoke at the March on Washington (which he helped organize), the youngest to do so.
These trailblazers deliberately, intentionally and continuously put their bodies in harm’s way with the full knowledge that, though they protested peacefully, violence would possibly be visited on them. They participated in “good trouble” and their legacy is the generations of young people currently leading the fight for freedom from the frontlines. I pray that Generations Y and Z are encouraged by their examples of courage.
In the words of another civil rights icon, Coretta Scott King “Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in each generation.”
Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked