Between competing pro-Trump and anti-Trump protests in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, a silver lining was found with a Black Lives Matter group who unexpectedly took the stage during a boisterous pro-Trump rally.
A Black Lives Matter group marched near the rally and passed closely to the stage. As they walked and shouted chants of "Black lives matter," the group received jeers and boos from many people attending the pro-Trump rally.
At first, the mic-wielding organizer of the Trump rally told pro-Trump congregants, "Don't give them the spotlight," and "They don't exist."
No one could have predicted what would happen next.
From the stage, another organizer seemed to make a split-second decision and shouted, "I'm going to let Black Lives Matter come up here while I show them what patriotism is all about, all right?"
Another speaker, who handed the microphone over to the group's leader, said, "[This rally is] about freedom of speech. It's about celebration. So what we are gonna do is not something you're used to, and we're going to give you two minutes of our platform to put your message out."
"Now, whether [the crowd disagrees or agrees] with your message is irrelevant — it's the fact that you have the right to have the message," he said.
Members of the Black Lives Matter then took the stage and their leader began speaking — to the cheers of the crowd gathered, both supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as Trump supporters.
These Black Lives Matter activists were invited on stage at a pro-Trump rally – and every American needs to hear what they said pic.twitter.com/m69yvgiQtw
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 19, 2017
What did the group say?
"I am an American," the Black Lives Matter group leader said. "And the beauty of America is that when you see something broke in your country, you can mobilize to fix it."
He continued, "So you ask why there's a 'Black Lives Matter?' Because you can watch a black man die and be choked to death on television, and nothing happened. We need to address that."
The man's comments seemed to turn the crowd against him, and cries of "No!" and protests to have the group removed from the stage began to ramp up.
Though the speaker declared that BLM is "not anti-cop," the pro-Trump crowd's reaction showed they didn't believe it. But things began to turn around when the man clarified that the group was "anti-bad cop" and shouted that the group didn't want any handouts, and didn't want anything that didn't rightfully belong to them.
"We want our God-given right to freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!" the group's leader shouted, and the crowd began to applaud and cheer once more.
The BLM leader added, "All lives matter, right? ... If we really want to make America great, we do it together."
The crowd applauded the group leader's comments, and began chanting "USA! USA!"
What was the BLM leader's takeaway?
After the leader's speech came to an end, he told a nearby cameraman that his experience in speaking to the pro-Trump crowd "restored my faith in some of these people."
"When I spoke truths, they agreed," he said. "I feel like we made progress. I feel like two sides that never listen to each other actually made progress today."
He added, "I expected to come down here with my fist in the air in a very militant way, and to exchange insults ... if not on a grander level, and just person-to-person, I think we really made some substantial steps without either side yielding anything.
"I hope that they understand that one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matters movement is a proud American and a Christian who cares deeply about this country," he said. "We really are here to help this country move toward a better place, not to destroy it."
Noting that he had been approached by many people after his speech who agreed with him, and even wanted to take photographs with him, he said, "That's the power of communication."
"We came out, we were gonna chant, we were gonna do a demonstration, but we didn't have to — we just spoke," he said. "It worked. I'm happy about that."