PORTLAND, Ore. — Kia Rae’s first memories are strung-together scenes from a Jesse Jackson rally in 1988. The 34-year-old lifelong Oregonian remembers the smell of the fairgrounds, the current of waving signs, the colorful pins stuck to the chests of strangers.
Some parents take their children to sit in the stands of football games or baseball diamonds. The children of Portland come of age clapping to protest songs and stomping their feet to chants for justice and peace.
“This is your real education,” Rae’s mother told her older sister, Essence Belle, when she pulled her out of school at age 11 to hear Angela Davis speak.
Rae and Belle draw on those moments as they ready themselves to join the demonstrations that have rocked Portland for months, dressed in all black with patterned masks and bandannas covering their faces and earplugs to block the burst of explosions. In their hands, they cradle bundles of burning sage — an ode to their Native American roots used to calm protesters and clear chemicals from the air.
Editor’s Note: Leah Nash is an ASMP Member and also serves on the ASMP National Board of Directors.