“If your love for me requires that I hide parts of who I am, then you don’t love me. Love is never a request for silence.” – DeRay Mckesson
Rising to be Heard
Deray McKesson is a prominent activist in the Black Lives Matter Movement that has erupted around the country. McKesson was born in 1985 and raised locally in the Poplar Grove area in West Baltimore. He continued to get his degree in Government and Legal Studies from Bowdoin College. After college, he got involved with the education system participating in Teachers for America and Baltimore city’s office of Human Capital.
With the uprise over the death of Ferguson in 2014, DeRay moved back to Baltimore, later to become a large social media influence in the Black Lives Matter movement. At the protest, McKesson tweeted his experiences including “I’m running from tear gas #Ferguson” and “I have to sleep under my steering wheel to get away from the police #Ferguson”. After the movement, his twitter following exploded from 800 followers to 1.4 million followers. He continued to tweet about social and political issues throughout the last four years leading up to President Obama calling him “a social media emperor”.
Deray McKesson’s story represents one which all of us can relate. He felt strongly about a topic and decided not to be quiet about it. Instead, he used his social media platform, one where anyone could see, to voice his frustrations and pushback against the injustices that were going on. He spoke with the LA Times about the influence of social media on recent activism when he said, “We have known these things have been happening in our communities for a long time; we just have not been able to talk to each other about it, and technology — Twitter specifically, Facebook specifically — have allowed us to talk to each other about the world we live in in ways that we could not before.” (LA Times) His story serves as an example to all of us as to how impactful we could be by simply voicing our opinions.
Price of Change
Although DeRay was accepted by a majority of protesters involved in the protests, many people outside that environment were against him. DeRay experienced pushback while in South Carolina with the addition of the #GoHomeDeRay hashtag. Local businesses used the hashtag to shun DeRay from the community. Luckily, the hashtag was flipped and used to show how impactful DeRay has been in the movement. He also experienced resistance from law enforcement went he was arrested in Baton Rouge. The officer sued DeRay on the grounds that the officer was injured from a “rock like substance”. Television hosts said DeRay was spreading violence through the protest, which DeRay then sued for defamation.
What is he up to now?
Even after all the backlash, DeRay is still staying strong, he is still active in the Black Lives Matter movement but outside of that he has done multiple speaking engagements and interviews for various magazines. He is also publishing a book that will be out in September 2018, titled “On the Other Side of Freedom: Case for Hope” In the book he will be talking about the interviews that he has done with former President Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, that he has never discussed before. His reasoning for writing this book is,
“In the past three years I’ve seen unrest sweep America, first in the streets in Ferguson and then all over the country,” McKesson said in a statement. “I have seen people claim their power, knowing that this country has not yet delivered on its promise of equity and justice. In this book, I explore the causes of the current inequity and offer a vision for how we get beyond it, to a place of freedom.”
Additional Interviews of DeRay: