New generation of civil rights activists emerges after George Floyd death


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new generation is staging demonstrations, protesting and demanding change after the murder of George Floyd.

Those demonstrations are reminiscent of the battles fought by the Memphis chapter of the NAACP.

“The protest matters, and I don’t think we can go back to normal,” NAACP Memphis President Van Turner said. “We are still on the frontlines, and as you know this branch is a storied branch.”

Turner said the chapter once led by icons such Ben Hooks, Maxine and Vasco Smith, Jesse Turner and Rep. Johnnie Turner is still relevant.

“We are the front lines and three-point platform is protest, policy and protect, and we embrace the protestors,” Turner said.

Some of the protestors are part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We’re coordinating efforts with Black Lives Matter, and they’re helping us identify the protestors who were arrested and make sure we have all of their information,” Turner said.

They’ve created the George Floyd Legal Defense Fund to help pay attorney fees for demonstrators arrested.

This weekend, the NAACP will meet with state, county and city leaders to change policy and to get people out to vote.

“We are really pushing policy,” Turner said. “What good is the platform if nothing comes out of it, and in a year from now, we’re still seeing people murdered in the streets?”

Raeangela Redwing, 15, is president of the NAACP Youth Council.

“We want justice for our people,” Redwing said. “We want to walk down the street and simply be safe. We want things to be better for us and our future children. We want justice for black people and all colors of people.”

The freedom fighters both young and old are demanding change.

“I’ve embraced those on the front lines, and what I want them to do is not throw away the NAACP, but take us to their next level and make us relevant to their millennial generation and those behind them because that’s the only way we are going to survive.”

Protesters marched in Memphis for more than a week following Floyd’s death, but they’ve since taken a break from marching for a couple days.

A group sponsored by the Temple of Deliverance COGIC has planned another march for Saturday at 10 a.m.

Saturday morning’s march begins at the Temple of Deliverance Church at 369 G.E. Patterson. and will end at the National Civil Rights Museum. Marchers must wear a mask and adhere to social distancing.

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