Kwame Rose described himself as a 21-year-old college dropout who gained purpose in his life from the death of Freddie Gray.
During the protests in Baltimore last year, the video of him confronting Geraldo Rivera from Fox News went viral. He addressed Rivera, telling him that “a black man can raise his voice, and you don’t have to be intimidated.”
He doesn’t call himself a leader, rather he says he is a servant of the silenced and the voiceless.
Q: How do you describe yourself and your purpose?
“Through the death of Freddie Gray I found my purpose for life, and my purpose for life is just to inspire young people who look just like me … That literally all young people you can be whatever you want to be. It doesn’t take anything to do it except for believing in yourself.”
Q: Okay, and why is this important in Baltimore in particular?
“It’s a predominantly black city, but it’s still run by white supremacy.
And white supremacy always tells us that not only black bodies, but especially poor black bodies, that they cannot be successful, they are not given the opportunities and resources to get out of poverty.
We have all been victims of police brutality.”
Q: How do you think the media should be interpreting the black lives matter movement in particular? Tell me about what frustrates you about how it is being portrayed now.
“White people have this obsession with like black bodies and violence.
I could care less how the media interprets things. That’s the power of social media, we can control our own narrative.
As long as the message I’m conveying gets to the right people and they’re influenced by it, then I don’t care how the media portrays myself.
I think there’s this notion that everyone who says black lives matter is a part of the organization Black Lives Matter or The Movement for Black Lives as another organization. I’m not a part of any organization. I firmly wholeheartedly believe that black lives do matter. I don’t consider myself a leader. I consider myself a servant of the people. So whatever the people need, wherever there are silenced voices, I just try and use my platform to raise those voices.”
Q: How do you think the city as a whole feels about the Black Lives Matter movement?
“There’s this notion that the Baltimore uprising was just one day when in reality, had it not been for the death of Anthony Anderson or Tyrone West … The death of Freddie Gray wouldn’t have had that big of an impact on the city.
Baltimore has been rioting and Baltimore continues to riot.
If you look at last week, when we shut down city hall, those were young black students who literally said we want our voices to be heard by the new commissioner. And then their voices will continue to be silenced and it’s just continuing the show that the youth in Baltimore are determined to gain justice and determined to make a change.”
Q: Do you think that this movement has changed since the 1960s?
“We’re talking about two separate movements, but I mean the overall struggle and oppression of black people in this country is not new. But the bodies which and the characters and the way in which we go about things are definitely new and more effective tactics right?
We saw the Civil Rights Movement was asking for equality. Some people got equality and that didn’t make the overall population free.
You know and the beautiful thing about this movement is that we don’t have a Dr. King figure, we don’t have a Malcolm X figure. We have literally individuals who have taken to social media, poured out into the street and used their voices to be heard.
And what’s increasingly particular about this movement and powerful is that this is literally a movement that has been led by black women.
If you look at all the victim’s families … almost in every instance it’s the black woman leading the charge demanding for justice and it goes un-talked about in the media about how strong black women have been for this country since the beginning of America and these imaginary borders and even until now inside of this movement.”
Q: What makes the movement in Baltimore different from the rest of the nation?
“The majority consensus of the people here in Baltimore is that look, police brutality is a real thing, we’ve all experienced it, and that you know, we’ve gotta change.
Baltimore is a major American city and it’s also one of the most segregated cities that you’ll ever experience … We will go to extreme measures to get the justice that we deserve.”
He said that he has not seen violence from any group of protesters, and paraphrased Malcolm X saying, ‘it’s not violence when it’s self-defense.’”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Reginald Thomas, II.
Raye Weigel is a sophomore multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.