• The Lance

Student Activist Takes Big Stage for BLM

By Zella Milfred and Tziah McNair

Oprah Winfrey interviews Teyara Johnson (10) and mother Ashley Corbin, June 13 on WW Now.

La Follette sophomore Teyara Johnson took the message of the Black Lives Matter protests in Madison to a national audience this summer when she was interviewed by TV star Oprah Winfrey. Now, she continues to fight for change in our city and at our school.

Johnson has participated in many protests throughout Madison, beginning with the demonstrations in 2015 following the death of Tony Robinson, an unarmed Black teenager who was shot by a city police officer. She continued her activism this summer in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, another unarmed Black man. She has felt a mix of empowerment and fear while demonstrating. Facing police with guns, tear gas and sound cannons has been intimidating and angering. In moments like these, she is inspired by protesters coming together to help one another.

“There is no better feeling than being involved in the beautiful moments that this movement has brought into my life and knowing with every chant I have a bit more hope that I am saving myself and my family,” Johnson shared.

She and her mother got the opportunity to speak on their experiences during an online interview with Oprah in June. “Having my voice heard by someone who could make a difference was amazing,” Johnson said.

Aside from protesting, she has signed petitions and spread awareness through social media. Her family has donated water, food, masks, and hand sanitizer to protesters, and have helped raise funds for other supplies.

Moving forward, her biggest demand is that Matt Kenny, the Madison police officer who killed Tony Robinson, be fired from his job as a police trainer. She hopes to see the reallocation of police funds into programs and support for communities of color. She also demands law enforcement respect protesters’ First Amendment rights.

The activism in Madison this summer pushed MMSD to take cops out of schools. Johnson hopes that La Follette will also create more consequences for students who use offensive and racist jokes.

This young activist is not alone in her quest for justice. Many La Follette students have participated in this movement, and young people everywhere are fighting for the liberation of Black people and the preservation of Black lives. Johnson stresses that every voice matters. “When there are two wolves howling, they won’t be heard as loudly as thousands of wolves howling.”

For more resources on how to support BLM, visit: BlackLivesMatter.carrdo.com

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