MAYA PENDLETON, 27
When Obama was reelected in 2012—it’s a Georgetown tradition to run to the White House when your candidate gets elected, and so obviously I ran to the White House and we were really excited. And there had been big block parties, very excited, lots of energy. So among friends, among organizers, I actually think that the Obama presidency was a point of political awakening, radicalization. You have to remember that when Obama was in office, it was also when we were out protesting Mike Brown. Right? And so when Baltimore happened,* I remember being in D.C. and talking to my roommate and being like, “We should go to Baltimore.” For me, the big shift has been that at first, where I was politically, I was so excited for hope and progress with Obama. And then I saw what the limitations of that were and how deep-rooted this type of state violence is. And just how broad this is, and how it falls outside of the Democrat and Republican parties, I almost feel like it’s a shift that points to a unique sense of radicalization. And being in the city during this time and thinking about what the presidency really means and what it is capable of and what it can deliver. There was also this profound disappointment and point of feeling like this—having a Black president—is not enough for the true safety and liberation of Black people in this country. And Georgetown being super isolated and up on a hill and like, actually getting out in the city, and doing the policy and direct service work that I do in D.C. neighborhoods—and yeah, it’s weird because it is almost like a reality check, to be honest with you. That’s sort of what it felt like. It wasn’t heightened by Trump in the way that people think that it is.
LOUIS MOENCH, 19 SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA
When we marched, I personally felt more, what—like, empowered. I felt like, okay, maybe this isn’t really doing anything, but it’s kind of fun. And it’s
* Freddie Gray, Jr., a 25-year-old Black Baltimore man, sustained grave injuries on April 12, 2015, while being transported in a police van without a seatbelt, in violation of Baltimore Police Department policy. Massive protests and civil unrest broke out in Baltimore that spring in response to his death.