“I stayed because the questions needed to be answered and I felt like if there was a role that I could play, it was in making sure the community wasn’t shoo-shooed away saying, ‘Hey, it’s tough, deal with it later.’”
The next day he woke up and his image was all over the world.
“I turned my phone on and people I hadn’t talked to in decades were like, ‘Braxton, you have to go back out there. You were showing us things that other people weren’t showing us. You were saying things that needed to be said, that other people weren’t saying.’”
Over the past year, he’s grown his activism into a campaign for a Charlotte City Council At-Large seat.
The emotional toll of the protests
“I was a mess when I got home. I couldn’t have a conversation without breaking down and crying. The pain, the physical pain that I endured. I saw someone die. What my community was facing – their feelings when you’re challenging power structures - that doesn’t always turn out well in the context of being a black man.”
Personal change over the past year
“I mean my life has changed dramatically. There was a sense of citizen reportage, a bit of social activism. I’ve been given the responsibility and privilege to amplify the voices of others who don’t have the same platform as I do. While I do believe in the importance of going out, dealing block by block and organization by organization, I know that we’re a culture of laws and policies and widespread institutional systemic change needs to get done by that. So I’ve focused on trying to be part of the political conversations.