Activist community

Local activists share the same passion, generations apart | 4 Your community

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – One began nearly 6 decades ago, while the other is currently embracing its intensity. They are both black women, separated by generations of passionate civil rights activists. In honor of Black History Month, we took a closer look at their journeys and found that over the years the fight for change hasn’t changed.

Their feet hurt. Their voices… hoarse. Their struggles – substantial. All in the name of civil rights. Kathlyn Kirkwood’s passion for activism began at age 17 on April 4, 1968.

“My sister and I were at the jewelry counter and overheard that he had been murdered,” Kirkwood said.

It was Dr. King’s death that transformed Kirkwood from a Memphis high school student into a civil rights activist. What Dr. King fought for became his fight.

“As for when the light bulb went out, the passion. The determination that I MUST get involved. I MUST become active in this process. I MUST help change the world. It happened when the Dr King has been murdered.” she says.

As Kirkwood sat draped in the original blanket given to her for warmth during those freedom marches, she reflected on the issues that drew her to the streets. Civil rights, police brutality, equality and criminal justice.

“At 71, I’m just as much of an activist today as I was at 17. It made me realize that I can’t say I had a calling, but I knew I could. And I felt that I had to make changes and differences and the only way to do that was to get active and use my passion to try to create a different world.” said Kirkwood.

“We think we shouldn’t be censored on things like racial disparity and what it means to be white in America and what it means to be black in America.” said Jasmine Teague.

Teague is a 17-year-old activist who learned civil rights from her grandfather.

“In his 70 years of life, he never went to school with a white person. And I feel and realized that those times weren’t that far away,” Teague said.

He helped build churches in Atlanta, the birthplace of the civil rights movement, and met icons like Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King. Talking to him made him realize something.

“Some of the people who hated people like me and people like my grandfather still live today. And it makes me realize how much we need to push for change within our society.” said Teague.

“I want to see an America where diversity and inclusion exist. Equity in all its forms, be it social, cultural, governmental and political.” She added.

From Dr Martin Luther King Jr to George Floyd, and from Jasmine Teague to Kathlyn Kirkwood. The names may have changed, but the struggle for civil rights, police brutality, equality and criminal justice within the African American community, they say, has remained the same. But with each song, with each step, with each struggle, it is hope that has remained unchanged. And so they fight.

“The world is just as confusing, if not more so today, than it was 30 years ago. We have made wonderful incremental changes. You can eat wherever you want. You can stay in any But there’s still a lot of subtle, secret actions and behaviors that say we really haven’t made much progress,” Kirkwood added.

Kirkwood wrote a children’s book called “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round”. The title taken from a song of freedom. It documents her teenage life at that time. It’s his way of giving back while instilling his passion in others.

“My dream is to be able to travel across the United States teaching and educating. Bringing forth a young activist. That’s what I try to do all the time.” said Kirkwood.

Teague dreams of going to college while pursuing her activism. I asked Ms. Kirkwood where she thought the world would be in 50 years. She says she hopes the world will come together to work towards the positive for humanity. But how she looks at the world today. That’s why she keeps fighting.

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