Since May 2020, youth organizers across the country have been mobilizing against police brutality and working for systemic change in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. Some of them had organized for social justice before, but many of them took to the streets for the first time and without an organized plan. Across Instagram posts, Zoom calls and iMessages, these youth organizers used social media to launch some of the largest Black Lives Matter protests in the country. In the sixth episode of Rolling Stone’s “Youth Organizers” video series, we take a look at Atlanta, Georgia and the youth-led work being done by Madison Crenshaw of Buckhead for Black Lives.
Rolling Stone: How did Buckhead for Black Lives begin?
Madison Crenshaw: It all started with a group chat. Nick Jackson texted a group of 10 or so, just to offer a support system. It was a very difficult time after the death of George Floyd. We just wanted to have those conversations and quickly realized that we wanted to do something larger for the community. So, we decided to put on a protest.
How did you spread the word?
Crenshaw: I could’ve never done this by myself — I’m glad I had a full group. Just to name a few people: Ryan Mutombo, Isabelle Johnson, Nick Jackson, KJ Wallace, and Harrison and Franklin Rodriguez. After the initial text, I immediately started working on a digital flyer. Once we finished that, we decided to spread it. Using social media it wasn’t even a question. On our personal accounts, we have about 10,000 followers combined, so we knew we could easily get some traction. It was really a team effort.
What was the planning process like for the actual march?
Crenshaw: When we decided to choose the marching path, I knew we needed to go down West Paces Ferry straight to the Governor’s Mansion [where Brian Kemp lives]. These are the people that need to be hearing this message that Black Lives Matter the most. I think a lot of times in the past people of color’s voices have been overlooked, stepped on…they’re not always given the priority. The Black Lives Matter movement has finally amplified our voices. Atlanta is always going to let people know that we’re here and always try to be on the right side of history.
How did you feel once you realized the protest was a success?
Crenshaw: I remember looking around and it was a sea of people. I was surprised, shocked and overwhelmed. I really have to thank social media. I never would’ve thought in a million years we’d be able to get 2,000 people to attend and be in support of our march. With anything that you do that is new, there is always that part of you that’s scared. Seeing so many that came out to support really gave me a new burst of energy. I felt so determined after that. We were like, “Wow this is what it looks like to make a community come together. This is what it looks like to use your voice.”
Find more information on Buckhead for Black Lives here.