On Sep. 16, 2017, several hundred people gathered at Washington D.C.’s National Mall for what the event organizers called “The Mother of all Rallies” (MOAR). According to the rally’s website, the event was held as a display of patriotism, unity amongst all Americans regardless of political party or race, and support for the current president. In a public YouTube recording of the event, however, when activists/protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement appeared, the atmosphere became audibly hostile—that is, until one of the speakers invited the protesters on-stage.
Self proclaimed “black patriot” Henry Davis was about to speak when he not only encouraged the audience to let the protesters join the crowd, but then invited them on-stage to “show them what patriotism is about.” MOAR organizer Tommy Gunn then announced that they would give “BLM New York” President Hawk Newsome the microphone for two minutes to get his message out to the public as a pro- Freedom of Speech gesture.
“Whether [the audience] disagrees or agrees with your message is irrelevant. It’s the fact that you had the right to have the message, just like all them have the right to their message,” said Gunn before handing over the mic.
Newsome’s message of love for the country, and yet a deep desire to fix the racial injustice present in it, was met with a mix of claps, boos, cheers, and heckles. His statements about not being “anti-cop” but rather “anti-bad cop” warranted some especially mixed reviews, but after clarifying that BLM supporters “do not want handouts,” but simply their right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,”the heckles were replaced with applause. Newsome concluded his time with the sentiment that Americans should strive to accomplish such a task together, not separately, sounding coincidentally reminiscent of the rally’s “united, not divided” mission statement.
Despite scattered cries of opposition, after he had said his piece, the crowd applauded and let him peacefully leave the stage. In a video interview from “NowThis News” that followed the turn of events, Newsome shared his appreciation for the opportunity for both sides to humanize each other.
“I feel like two sides that never listen to each other actually made progress today,” he commented. “If not on a grander level but just person to person, I think we really made some substantial steps.”
During the remainder of the rally, the BLM activists stayed and spoke to MOAR participants, exchanging ideas and differences in opinion — an outcome drastically contradictory to previous instances where opposing sides of the political spectrum come in contact. Video evidence exists of both Trump campaign rally participants being encouraged by Trump to remove and silence opposition — violently if necessary, as well Trump opposers and supporters getting into verbal and physical altercations due to their conflicting viewpoints. But this video showed quite a different outcome. In addition to civil conversations, Newsome was also approached by rally attendees asking to take pictures with them. One of the MOAR attendees Newsome was approached by was a “Bikers for Trump” leader. After hearing Newsome’s speech, the man asked Newsome to take a picture with him and his son, which Newsome said was another pleasant surprise.
“Here I went from being their enemy, to someone they wanted to take pictures with their children. And that’s the power of communication,” said Newsome. “We came out, we were gonna chant, we were gonna do a demonstration, but we didn’t have to. We just spoke. And it worked…and I’m happy about that.”
Information for Newsome’s interview retrieved from “NowThis News” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hRM2NmZtR0
Full video of Newsome’s speech at MOAR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99K-G9QL5c4
For more information on the rally, visit https://www.motherofallrallies.com/
For more information on the BLM movement, visit http://blacklivesmatter.com/