Synead Nichols

#UNFILTERED is a video series featuring NYC creatives, nothing is rehearsed, all we ask is that they're real. Today, we look back at last year's Millions March with organizer, Synead Nichols.

Millions March NYC organizers, Synead Nichols and Umaara Elliot, are well-versed in disruption.

Hours before launching Millions March NYC in December 2014, Nichols, an activist and musician, recalls feeling a "surge of pain," when news broke that Darren Wilson would not be indicted. Wilson, a white police officer, fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, and left him lying in the street for hours. To Nichols, a non-indictment this egregious was proof - yet again - that the justice system does not value black lives.

"If all lives did actually matter, would this be happening right now? Would we still be protesting?"

After attending a small, peaceful march in Union Square, Nichols said "the whole way I kept asking myself, what can I do?" With no money and what felt like little time, her call to action was simple and peak millennial: Create a Facebook event to kickstart a small protest. She'd call it the Million Man March, and later change it to simply Millions March, after feminist vlogger Kat Lazo suggested to drop "man" in order to drive inclusivity. Nichols would demand justice for black lives, but she could've never realized how many others were clamoring to do the same.

Roping in professional dancer/activist Umaara Elliot and seasoned organizers, Nichols watched as members poured in, first 100, then a thousand. Their messages evolved into blog posts, their shares into chants. Almost overnight, accoding to Nichols, her Brooklyn apartment became a Millions March think tank.

"Young people are a lot more socially concious because technology has engaged so many people and interconnected everybody," Synead told me when I asked her about the power of online activism. "As people it's our responsibility to help other people and now, there is really no where to escape the race conversation."

On December 13th, tens of thousands gathered at Washington Square Park to stand alongside Nichols and her team during the Millions March. As they marched up 5th Avenue chanting "No justice, no peace", helicopters flew overhead, celebrities like Nicki Minaj, Russell Simmons, P. Diddy, Kanye West shared images from the scene, and news reports flowed. They had made a statement, because the justice system had not.

The march, to Nichols, was "very, very, very important for the simple fact that [to many] black lives do not matter."

See more from our #UNFILTERED conversation and follow Synead's Twitter and Soundcloud here.


Dec 29, 2015


Cass Alcide