DENVER (CBS4) – In an effort to further educate Coloradans about the everyday experiences of members of the black community, dozens took the stage at the Civic Center Park amphitheater during the George Floyd protests for justice and reform. One of those in attendance, Jaenalyn Simmons, took the microphone with one of the most captivating speeches of the day.
Simmons said she was hesitant to speak at first, as she had never shared her story before such a large crowd before. However, as thousands of Coloradans cheered her on, she opened up about her experiences with racism.
“I feel like this is a situation that needs to change. My story is just a catalyst for that,” Simmons told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “We are all born in God’s creation. Although I am half-white, I am still black. In this society I am always going to be labeled black.”
Simmons told the crowd she had experienced racial comments made in her direction in many places, including work. She said a white man made a racially charged reference about her facial covering, which protects here from COVID-19, while she tried to help him find a product at the store she works at.
Simmons overcame her fears by opening up to thousands of strangers, all in hope of enlightening those not in the black community about the struggles of growing up black.
“Most of those people out (at the protest) are white. And, I like that they are standing out there as allies,” Simmons said. “I got emotional because I’ve never had a chance to share my story. When you have something bottled up for your entire life, and you just want to express it, it comes out in these increments. And, it comes out at once. All those people were there supporting me. And, it was good to see all people of all colors and races out there supporting me.”
Simmons was interrupted at one point by a white man who tried to take the microphone from her. The crowd quickly responded, and many moved in to protect her. The moment brought tears to her eyes, but she mustered the courage to return and finish her story.
She was applauded by the crowd throughout.
Through sharing her story Simmons hoped more Coloradans would fight to overcome racism, and love those in minority communities.
“I hope that this generation, and future generations, just see that unity and love is all we need to survive in this world,” Simmons said. “If we are going to be raising our children to love people, then (racism) won’t keep happening. And, people can live together and not look at other people of color in fear.”