Earlier this summer, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, and demand long-overdue racial justice. It seemed in every corner of the world, the groundswell of support for Black Lives Matter picked up steam quickly—including right here in Northern Virginia.
Dozens of protests and vigils were held across NoVA, including one in Manassas. Organized by a group of Black small-business owners and entrepreneurs, including Frank Lee; Brian Johnson and his brother, Carlos Davila, who is just 17 years old; Ken Norman; Darren and Lawonda Council; Non-P; and Sean Beale, the June 6 event drew about 700 people, including some local city council members and the chief of police. Dubbed the “What’s Next” movement, the initial event—which included speeches from local leaders and pastors, along with a voter registration table—was designed as a kickoff to engage local residents on how to end systemic racism.
Photographer and fellow “What’s Next” organizer Kadeem Walker, who shot the above photo, says the event gave him hope for the future. “In my entire life, I’ve never seen something where this many people of different races have come together for the same cause,” says Walker. “So, I do feel like this is the beginning of something big.”