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Murphy Black Lives Matter Rally: One Year Later

Lilly Knoepp
Over 300 people showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

Last summer, BPR reported on rallies across Western North Carolina in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. These demonstartions echoed those seen across the country during the months of protests for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd. One such rally was in Murphy. TeLor Allen was one of the organizers.

For this episode of BPR Presents 'The Porch' on one year after the summer of racial justice protests, BPR’s Lilly Knoepp checked in with Allen about what she learned from last year.

Listen to their full conversation here, edited for length and clarity:

Lilly Knoepp: It feels like it was forever ago that we were at the rally in Murphy in June 2020. Let’s go back a bit and talk about what happened there. I talked with you and your friends then. You all had put together a private Facebook group with about 10 people in it and then overnight it became about 600 people. Ultimately, about 300 people came out to the event in Murphy. What was it like to get that amount of community support this time last summer?

TeLor Allen: It was really crazy and to see it come to fruition was just amazing. And to see so many people come together without fear and just own their bravery and just own how they felt about the things going on in nation. It was really inspiring for me to know that my small town community that might not publicly state their opinion on matters such as this was able to stand behind such a monumental movement. 

Credit Caitlin Penna
In 2020, TeLor Allen, then 19, Jake Reed, then18, and Emily Mills, then 20, organized the rally. All three graduated from Murphy High School.

Lilly Knoepp:  Can you tell people about Murphy and why you personally wanted to organize this event?

Telor Allen: I’ve been in Murphy minus two years for all of my life.

Personally, I’ve never been discriminated against which I am very grateful for. But there have been instances with family members where there have been backhanded compliments or blatantly racist things said to them. So I felt like although Murphy may not on the outside have an issue with racism, it’s always good to have those uncomfortable conversation and educate yourself on issues that you don’t experience.

For example, as a Black woman. I’ll never know what it feels like to be a Black man. Even though we share the same skin color there are two standards that are faced by both of our communities. So that’s really why I wanted to have the protest in Murphy, being that in the tri-state area it is one of the larger towns. I knew that it would be seen by more people. Not that there was an issue of having it elsewhere. If we were going to do this for the first time I wanted it to be big. So yeah, I feel like whether there is blatant racism here or not I feel like it is a conversation that people are having at home and it should be something that is on the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Credit Lilly Knoepp
Reporter Lilly Knoepp interviewed TeLor Allen via Zoom in May 2021.

So I’m 20, I’ll be 21 in July. And I feel like no matter what your age is, you have felt the impact of what’s happened in the sense of police brutality and racial justice. Whether you have benefited or been impacted negatively. We have all felt the impact of it. So just understanding that; Not in a place of guilt or malice intent; Just acknowledging it and figuring out what we can do moving forward.

I could easily sit and be angry and be negative because of the things that have happened.  Or move forward, like in June and bring forward talks of education and betterment and what we can do to make things better. And I think that what we have to look at the glass is half full, not half empty.

I think that’s the most important thing. No matter what age you are whether you are in elementary school to elderly. Understanding how your actions and your subconscious stereotypes can play into what is happening on a national and greater scale. And then trying to unlearn those habits because that’s all they are: habits.

Allen says she plans to organize other community events this summer such as a town hall in Murphy.  

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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