A Black Lives Matter read-in was in Greensboro on Friday, September 30 to protest the Charlotte police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. The read-in too place at Le Baur Park, Elsewhere Art Museum, and other locations downtown.
“Keith Lamont Scott was shot #readingwhileblack– a radical form of liberty,” read the event summary on Elsewhere’s Facebook page. “The denial of reading is at the root of a white supremacist system of control and oppression.”
The event was a collaboration between Elsewhere Museum, the Queer People of Color Collective (QPOCC), and Black Lives Matter Greensboro. The read-in aspect was conceived in response to Scott’s reading in his car prior to the police confrontation.
“I came out tonight to support the Black Lives Matter movement,” participant Allison Daniels said. “It’s a great movement. And also the whole thing about Keith Lamont Scott reading while black. We’re out here reading to show that it’s a revolutionary thing.”
QPOCC Lead Organizer April Parker headed the protest, guiding the group through the streets and leading songs and chants.
“Black and brown people are going to be taking up space tonight,” Parker said in introduction. “Because Keith Lamont Scott was killed while picking up his son and reading in his car, so we know the dangers of reading while black. So we’re going to uplift a lot of black and brown revolutionaries’ work tonight.”
In addition to the goals of empowerment and solidarity in the black community, the protest also aimed to raise community awareness of police violence.
“[Our aim is] to enlighten a couple more people who might not know more about it,” protest participant Jamal Pass said, “and that we might enhance people’s perspective as to what exactly’s going on and how people in our community feel towards these attacks and everything that’s happened recently.”
“We just want to enlighten people, like what’s happening,” protest participant Amber Haith said. “Some people don’t even know about the shooting [of Keith Scott], which I think is weird, since it’s been in the news.”
Excerpts from works by black and brown philosophers, revolutionaries, and writers – including W.E.B. Du Bois’ “The Souls of Black Folk”, Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” and Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”, among many others – were read aloud by black and brown participants. Personal compositions and experiences were also shared, all utilizing the bullhorn to be heard over the crowd and the noise of downtown.
“Essentially we’re taking the sit-in and making it a read-in,” Elsewhere Communications Coordinator and Liaison to QPOCC Guido Villalba-Portel said, “celebrating black brilliance and radical thought and making sure we heal out of it as well.”
The protest began at LeBaur Park’s food court during a showing of ‘Jurassic World’. White participants formed a barrier circle while black and brown readers sat and stood at the center.
After leaving LeBaur Park the protest moved down S Elm St, with Parker leading chants of solidarity and empowerment. The procession stopped outside Triad Stage, Scuppernong Books, and ended at Elsewhere Museum, a former thrift store turned living museum.
Protest topics included police brutality, lack of transparency with Greensboro police, the lower life expectancy of the black population compared to white, subpar health care, and racially-motivated over-policing.
There was a significant Greensboro police presence, with numerous officers on bicycles following the protest, interacting little save to keep it on sidewalks.
Concluding the walk, Parker spoke on the importance of solidarity and unity, including activism by white anti-racist participants.
“Every single one of you [white participants] belong on the front line,” Parker said. “Black and brown people are putting their lives at risk, literally on the line.”
QPOCC also encourages solidarity with Charlotte protests through Charlotte Uprising and by supply donations at Elsewhere.
QPOCC will host a screening of the documentary ‘Toilet Training’ at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro on Saturday, October 8 at 4 p.m. The film will be accompanied by discussion led by Queer and Trans People of Color.