How A Country Can Unite Around A Rallying Cry
By Eli Haynal
Almost one year into Donald Trump’s presidency, his supporters stood briefly united with members of the Black Lives Matter movement on the National Mall, united by Hawk Newsome’s words and actions, which still ring true today.
Trump supporters had organized a rally in Washington D.C. that they called the “Mother of All Rallies.” They planned to hear from speakers associated with border security, pro-Trump organizations, and militia leaders. 
In light of this lineup of attendees, it is no surprise that tension started to build when Black Lives Matter protesters showed up at the Mall on the same day. These people were led by a man named Hawk Newsome, one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. 
When Newsome and his followers drew near the stage, a shouting match developed between the Trump supporters and counter protesters. One of the “Mother of All Rallies” organizers told the attendees to pay no attention to the Black Lives Matter protesters, and Newsome said he expected to “stand there with [his] fist in the air in a very militant way and to exchange insults.” 
But the proceedings took an unexpected turn. Tommy Hodges, organizer of the Trump rally, invited Newsome onstage to share his platform. “It’s about freedom of speech,” said Hodges, “whether they disagree or agree with your message is irrelevant. It’s the fact that you have the right to have the message.” 
Newsome took the opportunity, and began with words directed at his particular audience: “I am an American,” said Newsome, “and the beauty of America is that when you see something broke in your country, you can mobilize to fix it.” The crowd answered him with cheers, but these turned to dissent when Newsome turned his focus to police brutality. 
Someone in the crowd shouted, “All lives matter,” and it seemed as though Newsome was losing his audience—but he turned the situation back around with an unexpected response. “You’re right my brother, you’re right. You are so right,” said Newsome, “All lives matter, right? But when a Black life is lost we get no justice. That is why we say ‘Black lives matter’ . . . If we really want to make America great, we do it together.” 
At those words, the crowd stood united again, and Newsome left the stage to cheers of “USA-USA . . .” Afterwards, he said that the experience “kind of restored [his] faith.” The whole encounter served as a powerful message of unity in a country fraught with tension. 
Less than a month ago, on January 20, people gathered once again on the National Mall. Although COVID-19 prevented the usual crowd, government officials gathered for the inauguration of President Joe Biden, and many more spectators watched from their homes. 
The division due to COVID-19 resonates metaphorically with the divided nation Biden has inherited. More than three years after the Mother of All Rallies, Hawk Newsome’s concerns are still relevant. “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile,” says Biden, “without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.” 
If the Biden administration remains true to these ideals, they will look for ways forward that bring Americans together, rather than separating them along partisan lines. In the words of Hawk Newsome, “If we really want to make America great, we do it together.” 
- Lukianoff, G. & Haidt, J. The Coddling of the American Mind. Penguin Books, 2018.
- Baker, Peter. Biden Inaugurated as the 46th President Amid a Cascade of Crisis. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://nyti.ms/2LkbAHW.
- Lukiano, G. & Haidt, J. The Coddling of the American Mind. Penguin Books, 2018.
Hello! The name at the top of this page might say “Elijah Haynal,” but if you ever meet me please call me Eli. I am a freshman at WWU this year majoring in Biology, Math, and Pre-Med, and in my free time I enjoy reading, thinking, and going places (although I sadly haven’t been able to do the last of these much this year). I hope you enjoy my articles and if you ever see me around campus I hope you’ll say hello!