Greensboro Protest Summer of 2020: When a family is formed by blood, tear gas and faith.

Name: Azariah Journey
Pronouns: She/Her & They/Them
Instagram: AzariahJourney

A text message from a college friend was all it took to have me explaining to my wife that I would be downtown for a protest and that I would let her know what was going on as I could. I quickly made sure that I was dressed and that my phone, which had only been on 30%, was charging on the way. As my wife drove, I began to pray & contemplate about what was going to happen in the next couple of hours. I asked God for protection over myself and all those in attendance & for peace to overcome any hate. As my mind continued to speak over everyone in attendance, I asked to help us all make a difference this day. Not a moment in time, but a movement that would shape not only our city but our entire country.

I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. I grew up on the same side of town that Breonna Taylor was murdered by Louisville Metro Police officers. Her apartment community had been one that I had seen and been in many times with others. Even though I was states away from Louisville, I felt the heartbeat of my city inside mine. This was not just a moment of community and calling for justice. For me, this was a heart wrenching, mind grappling moment of how fragile life is and how those in power take it away from Black men and women every day.

The world had all watched the murder of George Floyd. There was no longer a talking point about justice. This was no longer a topic that White Americans, or any human, could disagree with.
This was a moment that took action and passion to make a difference. This was a community coming together. Now.

There was also another part of me that knew placing myself in a protest as a Queer woman was something I couldn’t have done in the Louisville, KY that I was raised in. My parents were ultra-conservative Southern Baptist folk- Ignorant to both change and history.

Greensboro, North Carolina had become my home and the place where I had felt I could truly become myself. I knew that this protest was for Black individuals who had been disproportionately abused, erased, and murdered in our country. Another part of me knew that this protest was about making a stance against the white supremacy I had been raised in and knew from Louisville.

When I reached downtown the protest was about to get underway. I listened to the leadership of the Black individuals who were guiding us and made my stance. About halfway through, I was asked to help lead the protest alongside the Black Leaders. I still don’t know for sure why I was asked, but at that moment, I felt God sweep across the entire street that we were on. We began to march while “No Justice, No peace” was screamed.

For a moment, I want you to imagine 500 – 700 people on a street. Every gender, every race, and every walk of life, together. From individuals in their upper 70s to children who were being pushed in strollers by parents bearing the knowledge that the world we currently are in is not safe for Black individuals or anyone who isn’t a white heterosexual individual. Picture that unity if you can. The body of Christ truly being represented.

When I connected with Brant and Virginia, something spiritual happened.
I don’t remember what it was that led Brant and me to link arms and begin to lead a different march than what we had been. The energy had shifted and everyone felt it. The electricity in the arm was visible in everyone. This was a spiritual battle taking place and Brant and I, along with the others who were leading, seemed to be in the middle of a war zone.

When we continued on and began to look around us, we saw that the young people who were beside us were a part of the LGBTQIA family we belonged to.

I did not know for Brant that this was a moment in which God was opening up a path and future that he had known was spoken over and on his life for a long time. I did not know that for him this show of unity allowed him to feel more comfortable in the way that God created him. Little did I know that God was making a soul altering, world-shifting experience happen in my own life.
There was another moment during the protest where the list of the Black men and women we lost became, once again, overwhelming for those protesting. This protest was for George Floyd. This was for Breonna Taylor.
“WHO SHOULD BE HERE” you hear me yell.
“AM I NEXT” Brant screams.
“WHO DID THEY MURDER?” she weeps.
I’ll never forget this moment or the thousands of moments of that day.
The moment my throat closed from grief and the reality of history being made.
There was a clear, eye-opening revelation for me.
I could breathe once I calmed myself.
George Floyd never got that chance.

I had fought and survived to survive in a world and with a family that hated my ideologies and sexuality and allowed me to be abused, raped, and taken advantage of over and over again.

I didn’t realize that the fight and grit I had learned from those traumas would spark that flame and passion into making a true change. To making history.

I believed I was a world changer.
I had always felt that there was more I could do.
I knew there was a calling over my life.
I knew that there was a greater purpose to my story.

Standing beside my Black Brothers and Sisters.
Standing beside my LGBTQ community.
Standing and fighting against the system that has allowed oppression to silence and erase the history of Indigenous and People of Color.

Standing on the front lines of a battle that has been passed on from generation to generation. The legacy of the Greensboro Four, The Freedom Riders, John Lewis. Viola Liuzzo, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Junior has been passed on and placed in front of us to carry forward change.

Arms raised.
Voices loud.
Arms linked.
Covered in prayers.

That’s how we will win this Victory.

Together.

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