Lauren Hurlock

On Thursday, June 4, we attended a Black Lives Matter rally and march, after almost a week since daily local protests began, spurred nationwide by the death of George Floyd. We wanted to know why the protesters were still coming out, still marching — through rain, heat, humidity and more. Here they are, in their own words.

Each protester was asked if they wanted to give their name and whether they wanted their faces photographed. Some quotes were edited for length and clarity.

[image-12]

Tyler Brown

“The reason I’m out here is for the education for the black communities. I think the reform of societal racism can start in education. And I feel like if we can get our youth in colleges, if we can get our youth interested in school, get our youth interested in jobs like being a police officer, being a lawyer, being a doctor, we can actually fight for real change instead of just complaining about it and asking about it every single day.”

[image-11]

Somerset Gagne

“I couldn’t stay home anymore and I felt like a jerk sitting home. And I wanted to be a part of it and have children and I think that everybody will remember this era, and I want when they ask me, ‘What did you do?’ I want to say, ‘My body was there.'”

Amy Driggers

“So I’m here just to support the movement just because I feel like we’re not … No lives matter until all lives matter. So I am here with my friends, I’m here to support my friends. I’m here to support the entire community and I just think it’s way important.”

[image-10]

Akaleb Simmons

“I’m out here for equality. I’m out here for a change, ’cause there’s plenty of times where I’ve been arrested by the police. There’s plenty of times where I’ve been beaten by police. I’ve been in jail and I been arrested by the police. Like, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of seeing my brothers die. I’m tired of seeing all my brothers fall to something they don’t even do. They make us seem like we’re such bad people, we’re not bad people at all. We’re just out here and we want change. We’re down on our knees and we’re pleading. We just want change, that’s all we want. ”

[image-9]

Eddie

“I just feel like my life matters just as much as anybody else’s. I pay tuition here. I pay rent here. And I just feel … not just in Charleston itself, but just in America, I feel like my life should matter just as much as someone else’s. You know what I mean? And this whole movement going on, even though I feel like we should have been doing more, like it shouldn’t have gotten to this point to begin with; but I just feel like I want to be a part of it because [in the future] when I look back and my kids ask me what I did during this time, I don’t want to tell them that I was just sitting at home when I could have been making a difference along with my community.”

[image-8]

Malachi Cleveland

“I’m out here because I’m tired of all the injustice going on in the world in general. Besides just Charleston. I’ve been here every single day since Saturday, besides the riots. I’m just tired of not being able to feel safe. I’ve been followed by cops on my skateboard going home more times than I can count. I just wanna be able to not be looked at as a problem or a target all the time. All the time. I’m always walking to a grocery store and getting followed. A lot of times it’s from other colored people, not just white people!”

“I’m really tired of people just getting this image of colored people as an enemy or a problem. I went to a high school that was dominantly white and I couldn’t get away with just getting a snack or getting a book. People were always like what are you doing? What’s going on with this? What’s going on with that? I just need a change. I need a change in people, a change in the police force, I just want a change in general. I want everyone to get a chance in life just like everyone else does.”

“The amount of conversations I’ve had with older colored people telling me that because I’m colored, I’m going to have to work harder. It’s the truth and I hate that it’s the truth, but that’s what it is. My white friend has never had to have a conversation about how he had to work harder because he’s white. It’s just crazy to me. That’s why I’m out here — I just want a difference. That’s all I want. I just want to be looked at as a human being, not as a target, a criminal or a thug.”

[image-7]

Suemaya Shabaan

“[Black Lives Matter] is a thing that I’m super passionate about. I’m not black, but I’ve also experienced discrimination. My dad is from Egypt, so in high school it was pretty common for people to make fun of me, say I was a terrorist, but it’s nothing compared to not only the social racism that black people face, but the systematic racism. Since jump black people have never been safe in America. Right now, I just feel so privileged that I live in downtown Charleston and I have the opportunity to be a part of this. Because it means so much to me and it has always meant so much to me, but now I feel like I am actively making a difference and that’s super important to me.”

[image-6]

Jo Kokri-Bhatt

“I’m out because I am a faithful American who is doing her civic duty. I’m also a small business owner minority and I feel very compelled to stand up for what is right in today’s times.”

[image-4]

Jennasis Escobar

“Because I’m black and very soon I’m going to have black kids, which is really why I’m out here. Eventually I’ll have black kids and it’s just not what I want them to go through.”

[image-3]

Basil Summerssmith

“I’m out here to support the movement because I’m biracial, my dad is black, and I’ve dealt with racism. I’ve seen my family deal with racism — my parents were in an interracial marriage and I know what it’s like to be discriminated against. Plus I’m gay and nonbinary. So I’m here to support my friends and family.”

[image-2]

Noah Jones

“Mainly to join in this whole effort in combating evil and racism in this country that we all live in. Because it really does take all of us, especially as an African-American male, who is the target and victim specifically in this issue. I can’t sit back and not do anything and hope white people or other black people will speak for me. So I have to be on the front lines because I’m the target. But it’s mostly about joining the effort with everyone — black, brown, yellow, red, it doesn’t matter. We are all human beings and we all care about each other and we all deserve to live. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
[image-5]

Brenda Peart

“They finally came through the neighborhoods! You can tell the difference in organization. Saturday was extremely organic, so folks were moving around different places. Sunday they came just close — but you can tell when they came up King and turned on Cannon — I was like nah, those are just college kids.”

“When I started seeing different formations, because there is strategy to this. You know — plot, plan, organize, mobilize, effectively. There’s strategy to this. When I heard them through my window I was like, ‘Wait a second, where the hell is my bra?'”

“I wasn’t going downtown, I’m too damn old. The fluffy ain’t shiftin’ right.”