After seeing protests in Portland and around the world following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, 10-year old Aidan Carter wanted to host a family-friendly protest of his own.
“I decided to do it for peace and justice,” Aidan said. "I'm little — doesn't mean I can't change the world."
Far from the nightly protests downtown, hundreds of families marched Wednesday evening alongside bikes and strollers to nearby Columbia Park, chanting in support of Black lives.
Aidan’s favorite chant? “Stay together, stay tight.”
“That means everybody that’s Black, we stay tight, and we stay together,” Aidan said.
The protest kicked off across the street from his school, Rosa Parks Elementary.
For some older protesters, the protest was as much about showing support as it was about setting an example for their young family members and friends
“I’m out here for my children, my sons, my nephew that are young black boys raised in this country,” said Ieisha. She brought out her 10-year-old son, Kaden, for the protest — his first.
“They need to be a part of this. This is history,” she said.
Holding her 13-month-old son, Kate marched in the protest too.
“There’s a lot of inequity, and I feel like a lot of people, a lot of us, are waking up now and making it known that its got to change. It’s been a long, long time,” she said.
“I’ve got young people that need to learn, and might as well start now.”
Aidan’s mom, Alisha Carter, is an educator in the David Douglas School District. Once the protest made it to Columbia Park, she spoke about how it feels to be a Black woman at this time and seeing the recent deaths of Breona Taylor, who was killed by police as she slept, and Ahmaud Arbery, killed by armed white men while out jogging.
“I can’t sleep. I can’t jog. What can I do except for being Black?” Carter said. “My skin is not a weapon — our skin is not a weapon.”
But she also had a message for the many white people in the audience.
“To my white people, quit giving us performative action — don’t just talk about it, be about it.” Carter said.
“It doesn’t end with this march. My Black skin is Black every day, rain or shine.”
Youth-led protests have picked up all over the country and in Portland in the last few weeks. They’ll continue this weekend, with at least two events planned for this weekend.
Aidan said he may host another protest — but for now, he’s pretty pleased with how his first turned out.
Before he led protesters back towards Rosa Parks, Aidan read the poem, “Hey Black Child” by Useni Eugene Perkins.
Hey Black Child
Be what you can be
Learn what you must learn
Do what you can do
And tomorrow your nation
Will be what you want it to be