When eight-year-old Nora saw hundreds of families filling the sidewalks from Eastern Parkway to Douglass Loop calling for change June 3, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Some even held signs that said, “I stand with Nora.”
Nora had the idea for the demonstration, in solidarity with the thousands of protesters in Louisville and around the world.
Her own sign — which towered above her — said “Kids for Change.” She held it with her elder sister Ellie, a fifth-grader, near their house at Norris Place and Bonnycastle in the Highlands before going up to Bardstown Road to see the rest of the protesters.
Nora and Ellie are the children of Miranda and Ronnie Weathers, members of Holy Family Church.
The interracial couple have had a lot to navigate since they were married, and more so since having children. The last few weeks have brought more questions than ever. But the family has a strategy.
They face their daughters’ questions about racism directly, transparently, age-appropriately and with solid information, Miranda Weathers said. And they support the girls when they choose to act, which may be why Nora felt empowered to start a kids’ protest.
“I like black history — I like reading about it and learning about it,” Nora explained matter-of-factly to a reporter in the shade of her backyard last Saturday. “I wanted to make a protest. I saw the protests on TV and thought I should be doing one.”
Her mom posted Nora’s idea on Facebook, inviting friends to join them at an intersection near their house. People started sharing it and suggest it be moved to Bardstown Road nearby and it grew quickly.
“I woke up to my first local viral post,” Weathers laughed.
Nora took her protest seriously, though, and wrote a short speech, which she shared with protesters and a couple of news cameras. She told them:
“It’s okay to not like different people, but it’s not okay to not like people because they’re different.”
The third-grader also takes black history seriously. She can tell you all about Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, whose contributions to the space race were told just a few years ago in the book and movie “Hidden Figures.”
She can also tell you — and act out the parts with a flair — how Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery bus boycotts. She’ll tell you the boycotts lasted precisely 381 days, “That’s more than a year.”
She’ll also tell you, astutely, that finances helped turn the tide of the boycotts.
“The bus people said, ‘Please come back and ride our buses. We need your money.’ After that, people were allowed to sit where they wanted to sit.”
She wants to be like Katherine Johnson, though.
“I’m going to be an engineer and a scientist and chemist and I’m going to send people to space. I want to send people out of the universe,” she said. She was quick to note that she also wants to be sure she brings them back.
Her mom, Miranda Weathers, said that as a white mother in an interracial family, “I take the lead from Ronnie,” her husband who is African American.
“We have different views about things happening in the world — that comes from my privilege. I try to listen first.”
When the kids have questions, she said, “We look at books and try to learn together as a family.
“We try to be open, try to talk about what’s going on in the world — age-appropriately,” she noted. “Things I would have been shielded from, Ronnie was not. We don’t want to shield them, but we don’t want to scare them or traumatize them.
“That’s why protests like this are important. She was able to do something to create change,” Weathers noted. “At the end of the day, she is an African American. Ellie is, too. I don’t want to think I didn’t do enough.”
Weathers encourages other families, particularly white parents struggling with how to talk to their children, to “Be honest with yourself and also with your children about what’s going on in the world so you’re not in a bubble. If we hide in our safety zones, we are doing a disservice to our children. If they don’t know the truth, it will be hard to make the changes we need to make in the future.”
Ellie said she’s happy Nora started the protest.
“It makes me proud that my little sister was doing something to help people,” she said. “It’s important.”
With the wisdom children seem to be born with, she added, “Sometimes people don’t listen. The best way to get them to listen is to yell it out loud.”