The following piece is from American Friends Service Committee. It was written by Diamond Latchison.
By: Diamond Latchison
Note: I invited Matthew Armstead who went to Ferguson during Ferguson October to write a guest piece about his experience. He thought it would be great if we invited someone from the community to write about their experience and introduced me to Diamond Latchison, a young woman who has been involved since the early days of the protests. Here Diamond writes about how she got involved and her determination to stay in the struggle until change comes. – Lucy
I remember a month before Michael Brown was shot down and killed and the movement in Ferguson became what it is, I had a talk with my father about leaders and our generational gap. He talked to me about the Black Power movement and the Civil Rights movement and all about how his generation wasn’t afraid to stand up for what they believed in. They weren’t afraid to be proud of their blackness.
But my generation, he said, didn’t take pride in anything besides the rappers and singers we listen to and the reality TV shows we watch. His thoughts were that my generation wasn’t willing to fight for anything, no matter what it was. Now, my father and I have had these talks before but never to this level. Whenever we would talk about situations involving my generation and how ‘immobilized’ we were when it comes to social issues, I would agree with him because I thought the same. Generation X is what we are called and I believed it.
My father and I were listening to the radio and although I don’t really remember specifically the subject of the radio show, I know it entailed leaders and movements. So, as we were listening to this conversation my dad asked me this, “If something major were to happen in St. Louis that should cause the young people to come out, would they?” I thought about it and wanted to give my generation the benefit of the doubt so instead of saying, “No” like I usually did, I said that I had no idea honestly. I said that it would have to be something very impactful for young people to move. He also asked me if I saw any leaders within my generation? Once again I told my father, “I have no idea.”
Little did we know that we would both be proven wrong come August 9th. As soon as Michael Brown’s body laid on the ground, in the simmering heat, for 4 ½ hours, young people were out and revolting! I wasn’t out the first four days because of my parents would not allow me to go out, but seeing the outcry explode on social media just amazed me!
Seeing my generation stand up to the police and then get tear gassed, hit with rubber bullets, and all types of brutality just truly blew my mind because this was all happening in 2014!
Ferguson looked like something you would see in history books about the March on Selma or the Civil Rights movement in general. I joined the protests after 5 days. Once I started seeing firsthand what the people were doing and what the police were doing, I never left. I never thought that a moment would get so big that it would turn into a movement. 100+ days in and this has been a young people’s movement. The same young people that the older generation said weren’t about anything.
In the words of Tef Poe, local activist and rapper, “This ain’t your granddaddies Civil Rights movement.” And it really isn’t. Everything that we as protestors (or revolutionaries we like to call ourselves) have done didn’t really click until Ferguson October. Now with the no indictments of the officers that killed both Michael Brown and Eric Garner back-to-back within a week we are mobilized. The reoccurring murders of black people such as Kaijeme Powell, Vonderitt Myers, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Shanetel Davis, and Rekia Boyd pushes us forward to make change.
People started to pour into Ferguson and Shaw to show their support and solidarity. Now the protests are in places like New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland to Egypt and India! That’s when it all became real to me. Early in the struggle people all the way from Palestine and Iraq showing their solidarity to Ferguson and gave us tips on how to treat tear gas and get the proper gas masks to use.
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