Porsha Williams on Being Moved to Protest After George Floyd's Death: 'It Awoke Something in Me' (Exclusive)

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Real Housewives of Atlantastar Porsha Williams has always a "heart for the people," but the recent protests following the death of George Floyd have moved her to take to the streets in protest.

The reality star shared dramatic video from an Atlanta protest on Monday, where she and her partner, Dennis McKinley, were peacefully demonstrating when the crowd was dispersed with tear gas. However, the pain of the moment was not enough to deter her from the cause.

"Yes, I took some gas and to my eyes and I had to have milk and water poured in my face. Listen, I'm all right, I'm all right," Williams told ET's Nischelle Turner on Tuesday. "And everyone else who's out there fighting the good fight, they will also be all right, but it has to be known, it has to be demanded, that we are able to peacefully protest. It is the voice of the people -- this is how they are being heard."

"The message that we have is not going to die, it's not. George Floyd will not have died in vain. Breonna Taylor will not have died in vain, and the other people who have been victims of police brutality will not have died in vain."

Williams said she was moved to protest after the video of Floyd's arrest, which carried even more meaning for her as a new mother. "I don't have to know him personally," she said of Floyd. "I am George Floyd. I am African American. My brother is African American, his children are African American. People I work with, we should not be targeted because of the skin that we live in... We have been living in this negativity and attacked for a very long time, and if I can do anything, if anything is in my power to help lift the voices of the protesters who are out there every day, tirelessly, peacefully trying to be heard, be seen, be felt, if I can do anything to assist with that, how dare I sit at home and not get out there and be active. Every day I have been out there I have learned something different."

Williams and McKinley welcomed their first child, daughter Pilar, last March, and Williams said her fierce protectiveness of her child has only increased her emotional tenacity when protesting the lost lives in the black community.

"For me to sit there and see a black man who was completely unarmed, not resisting, laying on the ground, face on the pavement, a knee in his neck, two other officers laying on, applying pressure on the rest of his body, the amount of time that he was down, every cry that he cried out, when he asked for his mother, all of that touched me in a completely different way," she continued. "I'm a mother now, God forbid, I would have to go through anything like that, to lose a child. God forbid, if I'm already gone and my child is on the ground, under the knee of a police officer who is supposed to protect and serve them, snuffing their life out with soulless eyes."

"It awoke something in me that I knew was there. I have always had a heart for the people, it's in my blood. My grandfather, Reverend Hosea Williams, and my father raised us in that way to have a heart for the people, charitable. I've marched with my grandfather in the past. But [the video] ignited what was in me to want to fight for real change and to understand that I need to be with my people, with our allies, side by side, and fighting for real change and justice for George Floyd's family, and for the other families who have been victims of police brutality."

Williams' grandfather, Hosea Williams, was a prominent civil rights activist, a leader in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a trusted member of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s inner circle. He was perhaps best known for helping to lead a group of over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, which later became known as Bloody Sunday. 

When the group reached the other side, they were ordered to disperse by Alabama State Troopers, who then began tear-gassing and beating the protesters with nightsticks. For Williams, her full-circle protest confrontation 55 years later "actually erupted out of a very beautiful moment." 

"I have been out there since last week, and they have been very peaceful protests, but this one by far was the most peaceful. It was very organized and we were very respectful of the police and there was a moment where we saw music was starting to be played and people kind of decided to just enjoy and live within that moment... Dennis turned to me and said, 'Babe, you should show this, you know the media's showing so much negativity about the protests, so show this.' And I said OK, and I turned my phone on," she recounted.

"At the same time, right before I turned my phone on, I looked and I saw a couple officers taking a knee, and I said, 'Oh my god, they're going to take a knee with us, they're going to join us,'" she continued. "I then see the police officer pull over his gas mask, so at that point I'm like, okay now they're not joining us, this is turning into something else. And it was -- more than not being able to breathe because of the gas, more than my eyes being on fire like I have never experienced before, more than having to feel like I was literally running for my life and my own state where I was peacefully protesting and that's my right, it was just disappointing. It really was."

"It just felt like we were under attack and it felt like we were being silenced. To feel like you're being silenced and your whole purpose is to be heard and to get your message across can be devastating. And so it was a rough night for me last night. But it's not about me. It's about our mission. It's about justice for George Floyd." 

Williams said she thinks her grandfather would have wanted modern generations to "continue the fight" that his civil rights movement began years ago -- the demonstrations in Selma were a direct influence on the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- and she's been heartened to see the passion among the diverse groups of protesters she's encountered so far.

"I am fighting for humanity, my human brothers and sisters, and when you are out there in the field you actually see that our allies of every different races, backgrounds, cultures, they feel the same way I do and they all are out there with the exact same passion and say George Floyd was our brother," she recounted. "If you don't see yourself in what is happening in America, then you are a part of the problem. You have to see that you have to become active, no matter what color you are. We can apply pressure on our white people, but we can also apply pressure on ourselves to be serious about this movement and know it is not something that is going to happen overnight. It is something we are going to have to dedicate ourselves to, every resource that we can, no matter who we are, and try to evoke some real change. And yes, it also starts in your everyday life."

Williams noted that some of her fellow RHOA cast mates have reached out to her for information on how they can help and donate, and she urged anyone who's been arrested while peacefully protesting to reach out to helpus@newcivilrights.org for legal help and aid. And she had a moving message for anyone who is fearful about taking to the streets to demonstrate themselves.

"You should be more fearful to stay home. You should be more fearful to not say nothing. You should be more fearful for your own life, whomever you are," she said. "If we stay home, if we don't take a chance, if we don't take a voice, whomever you are, you stand to leave your family members, your younger family members, a country that will kill them. This is life or death."

"Take that fear, feel it, acknowledge it, 'cause I believe in that. We are all human, feeling fear is natural, crying is natural... all of those things are very natural and real, but to have real change, we have to activate and have practical ways to make it happen in the real world. That is getting out there and protesting and joining others who are like you and likeminded and want to have change. And also, going to go vote."

See more on the ongoing demonstrations in the video below.

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