In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests across the country, college students and Chapel Hill natives Emile Charles, Niya Fearrington and Victoria Fornville saw a need for activism in the Chapel Hill community.
Fearrington, a junior at Howard University, said it's important to her that Chapel Hill doesn't remain a community that falls silent when it comes to advocating for Black lives.
“I think oftentimes — when Black people are shot at the hands of the police, and we see major cities erupt in protest — we don't see Chapel Hill one of the cities to respond,” she said.
Rally for Justice, which took place in early June, was organized by Fearrington and Fornville, a first-year at UNC-Charlotte, in conjunction with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Youth Council. They said they had previously served as leaders on the council, and were grateful for the large turnout they saw at the event.
“For me, it was such a powerful time,” Fearrington said. “If the pandemic weren't happening, I most likely wouldn't be in Chapel Hill for the summer. I think the order of events was destined so that I was able to be here."
Fearrington said over the summer, she finally saw people getting behind the movement that she and other organizers had been pushing for a long time. She said since the media was covering protests all over the world, it was easier for people to understand police brutality is systemic.
Fornville said the events over the summer were like watching history repeat itself.
“Being Black in America is still one of the hardest things that anyone has to deal with," Fornville said. "I think so many people right now are learning that because they're seeing it firsthand. It seemed for a while that every week there was another person who died in the hands of police brutality, and we’re sick of this.”