"The revolution will not be televised."
— Gil Scott Heron
For hours on Saturday, I marched with City Bloc, a student activist organization, and alongside hundreds of other justice-seeking Baltimoreans in an attempt to bring justice, not revenge, to Baltimore in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death while in the custody of Baltimore City police. During the endless hours of nonviolent protesting in which I participated, I felt proud to fight against the deplorable powers that be — I felt that my voice had been empowered as a youth in Baltimore City speaking out against injustice.
As I began my job babysitting that Saturday night, after a long day of marching and chanting, my phone began buzzing, notifying me of the violence that had erupted in downtown Baltimore. At that moment, powerlessness overcame me. The voice that I had projected for the entire day and the dedication that so many Baltimore citizens had put into peaceful protests was crushed in an instant.
I was crushed not because the violence lasted longer than the peace, but because the revolution Baltimore worked hard to create was not televised for what it truly was or is. The revolution was televised as angry citizens burning flags, looting stores and breaking police car windows. This is a skewed portrayal of the protests; it is what the media chose to portray — the media that consumers bewilderingly seem to want.
The real revolution is thousands of people across America standing in solidarity against police brutality. The real revolution is youth activists using their voices and their fearlessness to fight for the future of their generation. The real revolution is people of different races walking through the streets of inner city Baltimore, arms locked, chanting "All night, all day, we will fight for Freddie Gray."
The revolution is not violent or exclusionary. As a young white girl, I at first felt out of place, marching alongside people who endure struggles everyday that I will never understand because of the color of my skin. But as we neared City Hall, the leaders of the protest reminded everyone that it takes people of all races to make change. The revolution needs black people, white people, Asian people, Hispanic people — everyone. Approaching City Hall, the streets of Baltimore rang with passionate people chanting, "The people united will never be defeated."
The Freddie Gray demonstrations are the Civil Rights movements of the 21st century. In my Advanced Placement U.S. History class at Baltimore City College I watch footage from the Civil Rights movement of the '60s. I watch footage of marches in Selma and Freedom Riders in the Deep South. I watch the videos of peaceful demonstrations and also violence by police against the demonstrators. That was history in the making.
Years from now, we will look back on April 25, 2015. And what is it that we will remember? The media will have you remember the violence. However, the media showed a gross distortion of the day's events.
The revolution will not be televised because consumers passively accept what the drama-seeking media dole out. I write to provide the whole picture: the peaceful, heartbroken, disgusted people of all backgrounds walking peacefully in Baltimore — from the Gilmor Homes to City Hall and to Camden Yards — with the message that racial discrimination and police brutality will not be tolerated for another minute; black lives matter to all of us.
The revolution will not be televised, but it will bring about justice and eradicate hateful violence.
Leah Eliza Balter is a sophomore at Baltimore City College. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.