Talking With Everyday Activist Grace McKinnon

Stepping Into Truth: Conversations on Race, Gender, and Social Justice

Season 2 Episode 7

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Grace McKinnon

On November 7th 2018 Grace McKinnon was on her way back to work when she saw a confrontation unfolding between a black man and police officers in Washington, D.C..

As soon as she saw what was happening Grace stopped her car, got out, started recording and approached the young man, Anthony Williams. The officers had their weapons pointed at Williams and McKinnon knew that she needed to somehow defuse the situation.

She calmly approached Williams and started talking to him, telling him that he needed to comply with the officers instructions and that this wasn’t worth dying over. At one point McKinnon was between Williams and the officers. The officers told her that Williams was armed with knives but McKinnon never saw one.

Eventually she was able to convince him to get down on the ground as the officer instructed. Once he was under arrest McKinnon was told to leave by police. Williams was homeless, sleeping in Union Station since the death of his mother from cancer a couple of years earlier.

We are raised to admire those who act heroically. We are also raised to believe that they are very different from ourselves. But Grace McKinnon is proof that heroism is a choice. A choice to get involved rather than stay on the sidelines.

Grace McKinnon- was born and raised in Maryland but always felt a deep sense of detachment from her roots. Growing up in poverty with times of homelessness taught her about the harsh realities of life but also showed her the light that also exists when people reach out to help out of the kindness of their heart. It is living out that kindness that has made her the person she is today and remains a core value of hers, both personally and professionally.

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Credits: Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

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