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 eighth and final episode of Rolling Stone’s “Youth Organizers” video series, we take a look at Katy, Texas and the youth-led work being done by Foyin Dosunmu, 16, of Katy 4 Justice.
Rolling Stone: What inspired you to get involved with the Black Lives Matter movement?
Foyin Dosunmu: At my age, it starts to sink in that I am the future. I determine what happens to my kids and their kids. I think once that realization sunk in, especially after this summer, everyone was like, “OK, I need to get off my butt and do something I need to enact change. Gen Z being on the forefront of social media, it was just so easy for us to pick up on this and start doing what we needed to do.
So, social media was a big help?
Dosunmu: Yes! I think what’s so amazing about social media is how quickly people are able to mobilize. You can sign a petition with the click of a button, you can donate with the click of a button, you can spread the worth with a click of a button. It’s enabled so many people to contribute to this movement. People who do not have the ability to go out to the protests, especially during this time of Covid.
How did Katy 4 Justice come together?
Dosunmu: Erika Alvarez and Jeffrey Jin are the co-founders of Katy 4 Justice. We all know each other now, but prior to the protest, that wasn’t the case. We organized it all over iMessage and social media in four days and during that time we never saw each other’s faces. Even at the actual protest, we were scrambling to look for each other. It just shows you how you don’t need to know someone to enact change. We just had common goals, passions and we wanted to see something happen in Katy so we made it happen. So we planned a protest.
Was the protest well received in your community?
Dosunmu: We actually did have some threats once local news coverage announced that we were going to have a protest. Online, some people said they were going to bring their guns. Even when I went to Katy Park before the protest that day, a white woman said she was going to come back later and hurt me. That being said, the general response from the community was extremely positive. One guy from Austin drove over and offered to be a medic, people brought tons of bottles of water and someone donated 1,000 face masks. Gradually, so many people started reaching out that we created a formal volunteer group.
How did you feel once you realized the protest was a success?
Dosunmu: For a while, I was leading the chants at the march and, you know, Texas is hot. So whenever I would get tired, someone would immediately step in without me having to ask and start leading the chants for me. I can’t even describe what I felt. Afterward, when we were all reflecting on what we had done, I was like, “Wow.” I had never seen so many people come together. Disregarding their differences, disregarding where they came from, what they believe in. It was so amazing.
Find more information on Katy 4 Justice here.