Kids speak passionately about race at Charlotte city council meeting

Kids speak passionately about race at Charlotte city council meeting

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Many called for the mayor and police chief to step down at Charlotte's City Council meeting Monday night. But it's the voices of children that many are remembering.

Several elementary school students spoke to a packed room and in front of officials. Some described their words as powerful.

Nine-year-old Zianna Oliphant and 10-year-old Taje Gaddy said they spoke from their hearts and explained what they are feeling about race relations in Charlotte to city council.

"I don't like how we're treated just because of our color - doesn't mean anything to me. I believe that," Zianna said at the meeting before pausing and starting to cry. People in the crowd cheered "don't stop."

Zianna continued, "We have black people and we shouldn't have to feel like this. We shouldn't have to protest because you all are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to and have rights."

The 9-year-old's words and tears were heard by so many Monday night. Tuesday after school she told WBTV why she spoke.

"We should already have our rights because that's the past," Zianna said.

Zianna's mom said she hasn't let her daughter go to the protests. But Taje Gaddy's mom said she has brought him.

"For people who are judging us - we have no business taking our kids out there. These are the same people who are saying we don't have any black leaders. Black leaders are not just born, they're also taught," said Tasia James, Taje's mom.

People applauded Taje when he spoke Monday. James said they didn't rehearse what he would say.

"Every morning when I wake up I'm scared that I won't grow up to be a black man. I'm here to protest for my kind," Taje said.

Afterward, his mom said she was so proud.

"To hear him say and to have all those people behind him and supporting him I was just so proud. I was so proud of my baby," James said.

She said she wants him to know what's going on.

"He's a big kid. Any point my kid could be out here playing with his black or his white friends, and if the police see him running they could shoot him because they got a call there was a man who robbed or shot somebody," James said.

Taje explained what he knew about the Keith Scott case.

"I was watching a live on Facebook actually, so they said that they killed this man named Keith Scott because he was waiting for his child reading a book. My dad died from cancer but this kid's dad. This kid must have felt devastated. He came off the bus to a dead dad," Taje said.

He said he has been scared during the protests but he wants to walk for the cause.

"It usually is a peaceful protest we just stand around cheering and the police come up here with some tear gas and throw it at us for no reason," Taje said.

His mom explained why they speak about what's happening in the world.

"It's my belief the way that I raise him, I want him to get everything from me instead of someone else. So before someone else can tell him the information and their point of views, I want him to hear it from me," said James.

Both Zianna and Taje's moms said their kids chose to speak.

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