Hours after last week’s shooting in Charleston, S.C., Al Sharpton announced plans to travel to the Charleston peninsula. “The Rev” never showed. But DeRay did.
Meet DeRay McKesson: Bowdoin ’07, a former Minneapolis-area school administrator — and now the public face of “Black Lives Matter.” Imagine Al Sharpton, circa the Crown Heights riot, with access to Twitter. That’s DeRay.
When protests began in Ferguson, Mo., McKesson was still working in Minnesota as a human-resources executive with Minneapolis public schools. He would drive to St. Louis on the weekends and tweet — incessantly. He quickly became one of the most recognizable members of the demonstrations. With fellow protester Johnetta Elzie, he launched a newsletter, This Is the Movement, that pulled in 14,000 subscribers at its peak. In March he quit his job and moved to St. Louis permanently.
But he has not spent much time in his new hometown. New York City, Milwaukee, McKinney, Baltimore, Charleston — wherever racial tensions have appeared, McKesson has not been far behind. Such is the life of a professional protester.