A viral video started circulating last week that showed organizers of a pro-Trump rally in Washington D.C. inviting members of Black Lives Matter on stage to speak to the crowd. At first, there were boos and jeers from the crowd.
Then, as Black Lives Matter of Greater New York President Hawk Newsome spoke, some people in the crowd began cheering his words. Newsome was speaking to the crowd in a way that identified their similarities — not the things they disagreed on — while also explaining why Black Lives Matter exists.
At the end of the video, there’s still some heckling coming from pro-Trump folks, but most of the crowd appears to be cheering.
You see militia members and Bikers for Trump members posing with Newsome for pictures and talking with him in a civil and even friendly way.
What can this moment tell us about how we can make progress as a country? What can it tell us about our commonalities as everyday Americans? And would it even be possible if we didn’t have someone like President Donald Trump in office, who’s candidacy and presidency has exposed some of the nation’s ugliest divisions?
Newsome joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about the experience and answer some of those questions.
“I was standing on that stage with one thing in my heart and in my spirit, and that was make these people understand who we are,” says Newsome. “We are not terrorists, OK? We do not want to harm America. we want to fix America.”
Newsome says he has received a lot of backlash after the speech.
“A lot of people in this fight want us to remain at odds,” he says. “A lot of people in this fight want us to continue to berate and belittle each other and not have any understanding. However, we can get so much further if we learn to stay away from points of contention.”
Newsome hopes that opportunity to speak at the rally will lead to more opportunities to open dialogues between groups who disagree.
“It’s all about common ground now,” he continues. “I think people who weren’t open to Black Lives Matter before will now listen. So, there are definitely more opportunities. And it came from love. It came not from me accusing people, ostracizing people, or calling them dumb… It came from saying, hey, we’re Americans, we love the Bible, let’s figure something out.”
Detroit Today also invited Tommy Hodges, Jr., the organizer of the pro-Trump rally you who stood on stage with Newsome and applauded along with members of the crowd during the Black Lives Matter speech. Hodges declined our request.
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.