Durham Artists, Activists Call For New Ways To Police The Community

Sep 7, 2020

This summer, WUNC is meeting some of the North Carolinians who are "Calling for Change" in the wake of recent high-profile killings of Black Americans.

In this installment of WUNC’s “Calling for Change” series, WUNC  Youth Reporter Caitlin Leggett speaks with Durham-based poet Nelson White about both of their motivations to get involved with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Interview Highlights

My name is Caitlin Leggett, I'm 20 years old, and I am here in downtown Durham at the bull to help with a protest called Art of Change 2.0. One of my friends, Nelson White, is putting it together.

On the protest that day:

Caitlin: There will be poets, artists, business owners all here to speak, come together and just have a space where everyone can connect.  

On processing the loss of a friend:

Nelson: I actually started writing a little while ago because one of my friends passed away unexpectedly, and I didn't know how to deal with it. So I picked up my pen and dealt with it that way.

On what it's like being a Black woman:

Caitlin: If you don't know me, I go by Skippy or Skip...Being a Black woman is so lit. It's like being a part of this exclusive club... they attempt to imitate. Adding on curves and lips and colors trying to slim the waist and shorten the waitlist to get into the club.

Nelson White

On what prompted Nelson to get involved with this movement:

Nelson: I just couldn't stay silent. You know... if I could use my voice in some way to make it better, make a better world for my nephew and my, my future daughters... God forbid I'm aiming for sons... It's my duty as a Black man to, to fight for our people.

On what change looks like at a local level:

Nelson: Here in Durham, I just would like to walk outside at least one day and not see police riding in my neighborhood. I live in the county and I still see police every day. Why? I just want to be able to be policed by somebody who maybe lives around the corner from me versus, you know, somebody who's basically imported in and just kind of watching us like we're animals. You know... that's what change is like to me, you know, an actual, you can feel the difference, you know?

WUNC Youth Reporter Caitlin Leggett
Credit Kate Medley / For WUNC