Credit: Samuel Crankshaw, ACLU of Kentucky Foundation Inc., May 2020

Breonna Taylor lit a fire in me that cannot be extinguished. I did not know her personally, but her life and murder changed the course of mine forever.

In the spring of 2020, when the movement for Black lives erupted, I was living in my hometown in rural southwest Virginia. When I learned of Breonna’s story, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to my own life. Breonna was a daughter. She was a sister. She was the cornerstone of her family and an active member of her community. She was a frontline worker.

Breonna represents the modern Black woman. The reality that she was murdered in her home – the one place we should all feel safe from the harms of the world – reminded me that the systems of oppression in this country take without recourse and harm without restraint. I know the ins and outs of these systems all too well. I have had my own personal experience with how these mechanisms are designed to take Black joy, Black peace, and Black safety. When I learned of Breonna’s story, I was still reckoning with my own. I felt resigned in my circumstances and powerless to change my position. Breonna Taylor had her dreams and hopes taken from her. She was never given the opportunity to tell her own story. I couldn’t speak for Breonna, but I knew I had to speak for myself.

There were several prominent activists during the protests in Louisville who inspired me. While following their work closely, one organization continuously made its way into my feed: the ACLU of Kentucky. In June of 2020, ACLU-KY rose to national prominence. I was drawn in by their work during the largest civil rights movement of our generation. Their mission to preserve liberty for all Kentuckians is far reaching, from protecting access to abortion care to restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated people. I knew this organization was the place where I wanted to make an impact.

In June 2020, I decided that I would work at the ACLU of Kentucky. Four months later, I arrived in Louisville, eager to begin this new part of my career. My position is not a forward facing one. You will not find me leading protests or lobbying in Frankfort, but I come to work each day and lend my skills and talents to our mission and, by extension, the communities we serve.

Breonna Taylor’s memory is an ever-present reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, therefore I am intentional in my commitment to make this city, this state, and this country a safer place to exist in a Black body. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a mother, and because of Breonna Taylor, I am also an active member of this community.

Breonna, they refused to give you justice, but we will ensure you rest in power. We will always speak your name. Say her name: Breonna Taylor.