These Teens Organized One of the Largest Protests Against White Supremacy in Nashville’s History
On May 31, Nashville teen Zee Thomas sent a tweet asking if anyone was interested in organizing a protest against police brutality. Five local teens — Nya Collins, Jade Fuller, Kennedy Green, Emma Rose Smith and Mikayla Smith, who are all between the ages of 14 and 16 — responded and decided to form an organization called “Teens 4 Equality.” Five days later, on June 4, they led around 10,000 protesters to the Tennessee State Capitol, making it one of the largest protests against white supremacy in Nashville history.
“We’d never planned anything before,” Teens 4 Equality co-founder Emma Rose Smith, 15, told Supermajority News. Smith adds that the group was as surprised as anyone when the gathering drew an estimated 10,000 marchers. “We really didn’t think it would get this big — we didn’t think it would get big at all,” she added.
Supermajority News talked to Emma Rose Smith about how Teens 4 Equality came together, their plans for future actions, and what message they have for their fellow kids and teens.
Tell us more about how you all first met on Twitter.
Zee put out a post saying that she wanted to do this protest, and then me and my friend Jade reached out to her and said, ‘hey we would love to do this protest also.’
Nya also found Zee’s post, and she brought her friend Mikayla into it. Then we all made a group chat, and we started planning. We reached out to Black Lives Matter Nashville to get them to help us, and then we started coordinating legal help, medics, and bodyguards and stuff like that.
What do you think you learned the most from organizing this event?
I’ve been a lot more grateful for my family and friends lately. Police brutality is such a prominent thing … Just knowing that this could happen to any of my friends on any day is terrifying, and I am more educated about it now.
What did your parents think when you told them about your idea to plan a protest? Did they come to the protest too?
My parents were at the march, but they really didn’t help us with the planning at all. They were just really happy and proud of us.
Are you going to continue organizing?
We are definitely going to do more activism. We are hosting another protest on July 4, and we are also planning a candlelit vigil with paper lanterns for Daniel Hambrick and Jocques Clemmons. They were two Black men who were from Nashville and were shot by policemen [in recent years.]
What is it like seeing really little kids in elementary and middle school at these marches protesting?
I am just happy that they are showing up and that their parents are allowing them to come because they are the future. If we start teaching little kids about this now and start educating them about how racism is wrong, we won’t have these problems in the future.
Do you have any advice for your fellow teens who might want to organize something in their communities?
I would say just put your idea out there. The second you put your idea out there, we promise you that people will reach out and ask if they can help you. And the more help you can get, the better. So when people say, “Hey can I help organize this?” or “Can I help you with this or this?” please say yes. Allow them to help you. Don’t be controlling. You need as much support as you can get.