by Shevone Torres
I arrived in D.C. 2 days before the action took place. You can feel the tension. The moment I stepped foot in Washington D.C. I was overwhelmed by the amount of police presence. One whole sidewalk was blocked off filled with cops and dogs sniffing bags. I wondered what I just got myself into.
As I reached the place I would be staying at, a wave of concern came over me as I was told some of the alt-right was driving around black neighborhoods showing off their guns. We still continued to do the work. On Saturday we canvassed bus and train stops, warning black people about the rally that was coming Sunday. I came across this 91-year-old black woman who had a warm smile on her face. She asked why we were there, so I told her. It broke my heart to see that warm smile turn into fear and panic. “Why are they coming here? I need to get home. You need to get home.” I didn't understand at first until she told me her story about her experience with the Klan. The pure terror on her face told me everything I needed to know. After reassuring her I was fine and that she should stay safe, I continued canvassing the rest of the day. I returned to my room defeated.
Sunday. The day 400 Klansman would cast a shadow over chocolate city. My nerves were getting the best of me. That morning we all had brunch and went to a healing space. As we left to meet at 16&I, I was overwhelmed by the presence. As we marched towards the park, our numbers began to swell. Only after 2 blocks, over 2,000 counter-protestors had shown up. We decided not to go into the park because an abysmal 20 Klan people have shown up. We took that opportunity to turn it into black joy Sunday. We hooked up the speaker and turned it into a giant block party. Until you see hundreds of joyous black people do the electric slide and the wobble, you haven't lived. Then it hit me. Us drowning their hate with our love and joy was a powerful statement. It's the history of black people all rolled into a statement. You will not take our joy.
As the music faded and we said see ya (goodbyes are forever) I realized the connections I made, the new friends, would last me a lifetime. We walked back to our hotel room feeling we did great. A block away, we seen about 30 cops lined up on the block all the way to the hotel we were staying. It snapped us back into reality. So we silently walked down the block, (knowing anything we said could cause harm to us.) This is America. Our joy can't last too long.
I got to my room then I saw an amazing sight. Close to 100 antifa marching down the street. It was so beautiful to see them marching the black block. It was a reminder there are some out there that will fight- literally. So I laid in bed eating my funnel cake fries (yes it's a thing. It was delicious.) ready to sleep.
Monday came and it was time to leave D.C. As I gave my hugs out and boarded the bus, I went home knowing I did a good thing. Even if people don't know my name I left an impact.