Young Protest Raises a New Voice in Charlotte

From Uptown Charlotte to local college campuses, young voices are driving protests for equality and justice.

CHARLOTTE, NC — From Uptown Charlotte to local college campuses, young voices are driving protests for equality and justice. New leadership is reaching for the reigns in a new Civil Rights Movement, demanding that their voices be heard, and that they have a seat at the table.

“When the issues arise, and are at the table, they want to be a part of that discussion,” says Mario Black with Million Youth March of Charlotte.

Those issues were front and center, for the world to see, on the streets of Charlotte. And a new breed of social warrior was there. Millennials pushing for change; shouting out their anger and frustration.

“All they want to do is be heard, and know that their voice, and their opinion, matters and counts,” says Black.

“They’ve always been on the front line,” says Camillya Masunda. “So although you may not see them at the round tables, some of us; that person your talking about is me.”

Camillya Masunda calls herself a freedom fighter. The Charlotte business owner, activist and mother says current movements like Black Lives Matter want what the trailblazers in the original Civil Rights Movement wanted. But their methods may be different.

“It’s time for new blood to rise up, who are actually deep-rooted in the community,” says Masunda. “Who know what’s going on, and know the needs of the community, so that we can create change.”

But some in Charlotte’s black community see a divide developing between established leadership, the elected officials and local clergy, and the new breed of activist.

Shaun Corbett works with both, and says there is something missing.

“I don’t know you,” says Corbett when talking about the relationship between young protestors and the established leaders. “There’s really nothing you can say to me. I feel like you don’t speak for me. Like we have no type of relationship, no type of connection. So it’s always that gap.”

Dana Sidberry is a Charlotte native, business owner and mother to a young son. She says this is the time for youth to be part of solution.

“I told my son, who’s 11, and I said you need to pay attention to what’s going on on the news, and what’s going on around you,” says Sidberry. “We’re living history.”

“Put yourself in a position to both have dialogue and be on the front line,” says Masunda. “That’s where the disconnect comes. When you are only yelling, and not willing to discuss.”

Everyone we talked to with this story condemned the violent riots that spun out of protests early last week, and talked about the need for all Charlotte groups to work together.