North Carolina natives Marjorie Alston, 23, and Xavier Young, 26, never expected that their engagement would happen at a Black Lives Matter protest, but the spirit of what’s happening inspired Xavier to pop the question earlier than expected.

ESSENCE chatted with the couple, whose engagement at a Black Lives Matter protest in Downtown Raleigh has since gone viral. Alston and Young first met while working for a laser tag facility and dated for two years. Young had his heart set on popping the question, but didn’t plan for it to be at the protest. In fact, he didn’t even know they were going until Alston suggested so earlier that day.

“I knew a proposal was coming because I picked out my ring a week before,” says Alston. “But I didn’t think he would propose so soon and I most definitely didn’t think he would do it at the protest.”

Before they masked up and headed to be on the front lines, Young snuck the ring in his bag as a “just in case” precaution. Inspired by the cause and led by his heart, he decided to go for it. He told Alston he needed to stop walking to grab some water from his backpack, got down on one knee, and asked her to be his wife. The proposal video was captured by onlookers and has racked up millions of views. Not bad for a spur of the moment proposal!

Photographer Charles Crouch just happened to be passing by when the proposal was happening and captured the most honest and illuminating photos from their big moment.

“I can’t wait to tell our kids, nieces and nephews,” says Alson. “With the way 2020 is going, it will be nice to have something positive to look back on.”

Speaking of kids, the couple is expecting their first child in November. They hope that through making their voice heard, their child will get to grow up in a world where “we as a people will be treated with the same respect as everyone else.”

“As a father, I look forward to doing activities with and for my kid like joining the PTA and coaching,” says Young. “As a husband. I look forward to building a family and coming home to Marjorie every day.”

Marjorie says that she ultimately wants to instill a sense of Black pride in their child. “I want to show our child that being Black, you must be proud and can’t let the world tear you down. Being black comes in many shades and personalities, and [you should never] let anyone tell you how to be a Black person in America.”

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