Thousands of people across the country rallied in solidarity to support black trans-rights, Sunday.  

Black Trans, ProtestsMichael Noble Jr. / Getty Images

Black transgender activist Raquel Willis explained the movement to CNN in an interview: “This collective of folks is particularly powerful because it’s modeling what is possible when you do have allies and folks who do care and also want to make sure that they’re building something that speaks to the hearts of the actual people that they’re representing,” she said. “So often that doesn’t happen.” 

Willis led the crowd in New York City in a chant during the protest saying “I believe in my power,” while the crowd echoed the words back. “I believe in your power. I believe in our power. I believe in black trans power.”

Melania Brown, the sister of Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco, a black transgender inmate at Rikers Island who died last year, spoke to the same crowd as well.

“Black trans lives matter,” she said. “My sister’s life mattered. All of the loved ones we have lost, all of these beautiful girls that we have lost. There lives matter. We have to protect them.”

“We can’t just talk about trans people when they’re dying,” Eliel Cruz, one of the co-organizers of the event, explained to CNN. “But what are we doing actively and intentionally to create space for them to be safe and well?”

[Via]