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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

Elevated Voices: Listening In The Mountain West

A Black Lives Matter mural in front of the Colorado Capitol in Denver
A Black Lives Matter mural in front of the Colorado Capitol in Denver

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

With protesters taking to the streets nationwide to demand justice for George Floyd and confront police brutality and systemic racism, Mountain West News Bureau reporters are gathering perspectives of people of color from around the region.

Jorge Gonzalez and Sarinah Simons in the Tahoe Basin

Jorge Gonzalez
Credit Courtesy photo
Jorge Gonzalez

"It's not about a brown vs. white thing. It's about an understanding thing. And I think most of these problems is a lack of understanding." —Jorge Gonzalez

Sarinah Simons
Credit Courtesy photo
Sarinah Simons

"If you're a white person that is in this community, it's just assumed you're part of the community, whether or not you live here. If you're an Asian family that comes up here or if you're a Black family that comes up here or a Hispanic family that comes up here, it's automatically assumed that you don’t belong here." —Sarinah Simons  

Carolyn Love, Rosemarie Allen, Janiece Mackey, and Michaela Lee in Colorado

Rosemarie Allen is an associate professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the president and CEO for the Institute for Racial Equity and Excellence.
Credit Courtesy Rosemarie Allen
Rosemarie Allen is an associate professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the president and CEO for the Institute for Racial Equity and Excellence.

"When we moved into our home, my son was four years old and all of my neighbors thought he was cute and well mannered. And they loved him until he grew taller. By 12 years old, he was already six feet. And I remember the day my heart broke when he said, 'Mom, when I go for walks in my neighborhood, my neighbors don't speak to me anymore. They act like they're afraid of me.' And he noticed that before they started calling the police on him." —Rosemarie Allen

Michaela Lee is double majoring in ethnic studies and psychology at the University of Colorado Denver.
Credit Courtesy Michaela Lee
Michaela Lee is double majoring in ethnic studies and psychology at the University of Colorado Denver.

"When I was young, if a black man was killed by the police, I would be sad. And then that was it. There's nothing I can do. And now I go straight to social media and I start talking about it. And then I start sharing and I start listening to what other people are saying, because now we have that option. There's a chance for people to get information and take action. And I feel like this generation is eating it up." —Michaela Lee

Elevated Voices: Listening In The Mountain West

Ashley McDowell, Timberly Vogel, and Javaun Garcia in Laramie, Wyoming

Timberly Vogel at a recent Black Lives Matter protest in Laramie, Wyoming.
Credit Conor Mullen
Timberly Vogel at a recent Black Lives Matter protest in Laramie, Wyoming.

"Something's different. I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's the moons in line. I think it's, I mean, for me, I'm just glad that people finally see the light because it's, like, this is what we've been seeing and screaming for centuries. And, you know, I'm pissed off it took centuries, but I'm so thankful that we're seeing it now." —Timberly Vogel

Ashley McDowell speaking at a recent Black Lives Matter protest in Laramie, Wyoming.
Credit Spencer Hu
Ashley McDowell speaking at a recent Black Lives Matter protest in Laramie, Wyoming.

"History is being made on today and y'all have no idea how much. Even though I'm hurt as I am right now, my heart is smiling. My heart is smiling. My heart is smiling. My heart is smiling for every one of you today." —Ashley McDowell

Kenneth Tuffy Helgeson, Allen Matt Coomsta, and Robert Upham in Missoula, Montana

Robert Upham and his granddaughter Amaya.
Credit Courtesy of Lailani Upham
Robert Upham and his granddaughter Amaya.

"Some people think I'm co-opting a Black movement. They don't know how much we're related. We're related because we are equally oppressed. They keep saying on the news the original sin is slavery. I'm sorry but I'm an Indian man and I'm still alive and I'm evidence of who once had title to this land and the original sin is the theft of our land." —Robert Upham

Salish elder and Army veteran Allen Matt Coomsta.
Credit Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau
Salish elder and Army veteran Allen Matt Coomsta.

"What we are listening to is the heart of our people screaming out in any way they can for peace. That’s the right thing. That’s all we can do maybe. Us old guys, we pray." —Allen Matt Coomsta

Anthony Bruner and Shala Browning in Boise, Idaho

Anthony Bruner stands towards the left side of the crowd on Boise's capitol steps in an orange shirt and glasses. He was one of many to stand and speak during the protest Sunday, May 31
Credit Madelyn Beck / Mountain West News Bureau
Anthony Bruner stands towards the left side of the crowd on Boise's capitol steps in an orange shirt and glasses. He was one of many to stand and speak during the protest Sunday, May 31

"You know, I've been upset, you know. I mean, obviously we all watched George Floyd die right in front of our faces. You know, I mean that's – it don't matter if he was white or Hispanic or whatever, like, don't nobody deserve to die like that." —Anthony Bruner

Shala Browning
Credit Madelyn Beck / Mountain West News Bureau
Shala Browning

"I'm raising an amazing, astounding black man in this city. And it just is, I'm scared for his life. Every day. Every day I wake up, I have this anxiety just because I'm black, and nothing more." —Shala Browning

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Elevated Voices: Listening In The Mountain West

Elevated Voices: Listening In The Mountain West

Elevated Voices: Listening In The Mountain West

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