#BlackLivesMatter: We Asked, You Answered

ESSENCE Festival attendees had more on their minds than just taking in the concerts and enjoying the festivities. The #BlackLivesMatter movement was at the forefront of many attendees' thoughts and they had no trouble sharing with us the reasons why Black lives matter to them and how to keep the conversation going.

Ivory M. Jones Jul, 13, 2015

1 of 9 Erik Umpheries

It means that we’re focusing on the importance of African-Americans and not just in the physical sense. It means that we’re taking back the importance of our lives even when others try to tell us that we’re not.

2 of 9 Erik Umpheries

Black lives matter because all lives matter, but what really matters most is what we do about it. Talking about it and keeping the conversation going is important but what happens next? That’s what I want to know; it's what we need to know. 

3 of 9 Erik Umpheries

The conversation is very important to have. Being from Charleston, SC, the recent shooting really hit close to home and felt very personal for me. To have someone commit such a violent act in a place that is supposed to be our sanctuary and the place where we should be the safest showed how little value that some people place on us and something needs to be done. 

4 of 9 Erik Umpheries

Nakeila: It’s important that we understand that Black lives matter and that it is ingrained within us because for so long, we didn’t matter.

Renita: In addition to Black lives mattering, I want to speak on marriage equality and how that separates the Black community and how we were all together for Black rights and civil rights, but when we talk about marriage equality, you can see a clear line in the sand. Marriage is a civil right also but so many in our community don’t understand that.


5 of 9 Erik Umpheries

It’s upsetting that so many people are not aware of what’s happening in the community. Police need to be held accountable for how they are abusing their rights. Black lives matter and it’s a discussion that should not go away until everybody understands that and do something about it. 

6 of 9 Erik Umpheries

With everything that’s going on, for so many things like this to be happening in 2015, it’s kind of crazy for me. Everything from Trayvon Martin to the shoots at the church in South Carolina, I think it’s a little crazy but I think that people need to understand that Black lives do matter. All lives do matter, but in this moment people need to understand that our lives are valuable and these senseless acts of violence that keep happening need to stop.

7 of 9 Erik Umpheries

Keith: This movement is very important but we also have to look at what is happening with our youth. They are growing up and seeing so much negativity in the media and sometimes at home. Then there’s nothing for them to do. I know that in our city, there needs to be more things for the youth to do. We have so many festivals for adults, but nothing for the children. I try to make sure that I call the young men “kings” when I see them so that they know how valuable they are.

Damian: I agree. We see all the time that our lives don’t matter to others, but we also have to teach our young people that they do matter. We can’t expect others to know that if we don’t know it ourselves. 

8 of 9 Erik Umpheries

Roberta: The conversation part is fine. We need to be reminded. Faith comes by hearing. The more we hear it, the more we know how important it is to keep it on the forefront. There’s a period of time for everything. After the talking, the action needs to take place. We can talk until Jesus comes back, but until we put some action to things that we have concerns about, all we’re doing is just talking.

Lillie: To piggyback off that, all lives matter and not just Black ones and either way, what are we doing to do about it? How are we going to change things? We need to figure that out. 

9 of 9 Erik Umpheries

I think all lives matter, but especially Black lives. We need to bring that to the forefront because the media right now, they’re depicting a whole lot of other things that are going on like Bruce Jenner and not really putting the focus on the Black community. I think Black lives matter because as a whole, young men are dying at a tremendously young rate and we need to turn that around.