An 11-year-old girl from New York City organized a Black Lives Matter march all by herself, mobilizing her neighborhood to join in.
Breanna Collazo, a fifth grade student at The Lexington Academy in East Harlem, has been learning about the George Floyd demonstrations in virtual school, a tragedy that hurt her heart. “She said it was so unfair [to discriminate] on the basis of skin color,” Breanna’s mother Leslie Collazo tells Yahoo Life. This week, the girl asked her mom to drive her to the store for art supplies, then went into her bedroom.
“Suddenly, she came out with signs that said ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘George Floyd,’” says Leslie. “It was shocking to me that she put so much thought into it.”
Breanna wanted to join a local demonstration, but Leslie hesitated for her daughter’s safety. A few days later, teacher Jeff Zohn called Leslie to ask if he could attend “Breanna’s protest” which her mom knew nothing about.
All alone, the girl was planning a Friday march through her neighborhood to honor Floyd and others who had lost their lives. Leslie knew she had to take her daughter seriously, so on Thursday, she brought Breanna to an area protest so she would know what to expect.
On Friday, Breanna gathered her signs and a megaphone, and with Leslie, Zohn, drama teacher Fernando Álvarez and roughly 30 other people, marched through the neighborhood shouting, “No justice, no peace!” Álvarez also streamed the march through Google Meet so Breanna’s friends could watch virtually. The New York educational nonprofit Chalkbeat New York had previously reported on this story.
“Breanna gave a speech from her heart — it was very emotional,” Zohn tells Yahoo Life, adding that passing cars honked in support. According to Álvarez, people walking by also joined the march.
From her prepared notes, Breanna spoke of “the racist people in our world.” She said, “It matters who we are on the inside, it doesn’t matter who we are on the outside” adding, “If we don’t speak up today, there will be no tomorrow.” Local station News 12 Bronx filmed her speech.
Leslie says her daughter now understands injustice, telling Yahoo Life, “I am glad she knows to treat people for who they are.”
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