By TMoM Team Member Katie Moosbrugger
Many of you have seen the inspiring story and pictures of 16-year old Winston-Salem resident, Olivia Moore, who bravely organized one of the first peaceful Black Lives Rally protests at Winston-Salem’s Bailey Park on Sunday, May 31. As part of the event, she and 200 other protesters, laid face down on the concrete for nearly nine minutes to honor the last nine minutes of George Floyd’s life.
Before the protests became local news, my own 16-year-old daughter proudly showed me an Instagram account from her friend that featured photos and posts from that Sunday. Teens and youth of our community were already discussing the story and recognizing a hero in the midst. That friend and hero was Olivia Moore. Olivia has been actively protesting every day in downtown Winston-Salem, but was able to take a few moments from her busy schedule to chat …
TMoM: What inspired you to organize your own protest?
Olivia: I was just absolutely heartbroken when I saw the video of George Floyd’s murder. Protests began in other cities and I was motivated to do something in Winston-Salem. I created a new Instagram page and graphic advertising about the event in Bailey Park. I emphasized the importance of “PEACEFUL protest” in the graphics. I thought it would be a small protest with 20 friends. But I was surprised when over 200 people showed up, many with signs already made. I was only expecting my friends to come when I first decided to do it. I am very grateful that the protest was peaceful and that it received a level of attention that showed that Winston-Salem can have a peaceful, heartfelt protest.
TMoM: What did you have to do to organize it? How did you get approval? How did you promote it? Anyone else help you?
Olivia: I feel like today’s youth are ridiculously tech-savvy. We all know how to utilize social media. That is what I was able to do. It took 5 minutes to create the account and began posting about the movement. I re-posted a lot of artistic messages from artists about the movement. I followed Winston-Salem people that were involved in social justice. I made hashtags and graphics for the protest. I did it all by myself and spent 18, almost 19 hours on my phone that day, organizing before the protest. It ended up going viral in the community getting 1k likes within 2 hours of posting. Many people were sharing their stories, and it spread far and wide. I did not get approval at first from my parents. They didn’t understand the gravity of the attention until I showed them the insane amount of sharing that had been done.
TMoM: How did your age affect your efforts to organize it? Did it make it more of a challenge, or no?
Olivia: No one knew it was just me, by myself, and how old I was until the end of the protest, and then later when it was in the newspaper and on the local TV news. However, it did make it much more empowering when they found out how old I was because then it became about how inspiring it was that I organized something like this at such a young age.
TMoM: What were your goals with the protest?
Olivia: To create a protest where people could share what social injustice means to them in a peaceful way.
TMoM: What were some interesting things that happened at the protest?
Olivia: We laid on the ground for 8 minutes and 43 seconds to remember and honor George Floyd’s last moments. We marched around the city, escorted by police, who came. We went to visit the jail and they knocked on the windows. We took a knee to remember those we lost. We also had an open floor for people to speak about the injustices.
TMoM: Are you planning to do more protests?
Olivia: We plan to utilize these sparks of attention and create a platform that will be an online resource and community for Winston-Salem, and eventually the Triad. We want to share social justice news and organize groups and volunteer opportunities. We want to include people of all ages and walks of life. But, our focus is on college-aged and high school students. We are going to become a legitimate organization. We think our generation’s involvement is imperative to see true change.
TMoM: What was the greatest lesson you learned from this?
Olivia: That the youth needs to get involved. That it’s not hard to be an activist and make a change. We need to see things happen. Community is important.
If you and your teen would like to get involved, Olivia created Winston4Peace on Instagram to promote “the unity of peace and justice in Winston-Salem” as well as upcoming peaceful protests and announcements. Please consider following this account and sharing her posts. It’s Olivia’s goal to spread the messages of peace and unity as far beyond Winston-Salem as she can.
Well done, Olivia! Our community has heard you loud and clear. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many – children, teens and adults. You are leading the change! And many thanks to our local police for helping to create a safe, peaceful and welcoming environment for our teens and neighbors to come together to voice their concerns.
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