EMILY WOLFENBARGER, 38
We did have one moment that almost turned into an encounter at the Juneteenth rally. We started from a park and took a route through the Black neighborhoods in downtown and East Knoxville. So we probably only walked about a mile, mile and a half, but as we were walking we did pass a house that had a Confederate flag up. They had a skeleton noosed in the tree. They had a skeleton hanging off their house and they had a lot of signage up that just was threatening like, “We will murder you, we know where you live, we will find you.” And that house, thankfully, didn’t seem to have anybody home that night—all the lights were out at least.
But I’ll remember it because the NAACP team stood between the marching crowd and this house—partly to protect that house from people who were very angry and wanted to destroy it and partly just to protect the people. But to see those people volunteering to be that buffer and see them telling—I mean, physically having to drag some people away because it was such an emotional experience. They wanted to throw something at this house. But the NAACP folks were so deliberate in their peacemaking that I feel like they prevented a significant problem, while still giving voice, still giving an opportunity to experience that emotion.
To watch that, as just a white person, to see that this house has been standing for who knows how long, the house is like ten minutes from my house—blazing, just unapologetic, very much stirring up trouble that’s completely offensive… I appreciated to see that the process of this team of organizers was to be proactive and protect each other and stay focused: get back on track, get back on the march and bring attention to how we’re bringing change, not how we will bring destruction.
JOSIE STANFIELD, 28
I went to a protest in Portland the night of Emmett Till’s birthday. It was amazing—there were ten to twenty thousand people out that night. People were lighting off fireworks, they had drum circles going, speakers, music,