CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Don’t turn your anger into rage. It’s a message that was heard loud and clear back in May of 2020 when protestors took to the streets of Uptown following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Hundreds of people hit the pavement to protest and march following the death of George Floyd and it was from the moment on a shutdown highway in the place we call home that Curtis Hayes Jr. became a name people would remember.
He’s a man on a mission to find a better way, even launching something he calls the “Better Way Movement.”
The goal is to create positive change in communities and cities all across the nation through healthy dialogue between all races and backgrounds.
Hayes garnered national attention after appearing in a powerful viral video along I-277, which was overtaken by protestors one night. The video was only the beginning of his vision for a better way.
“Y’all come up with a better way because we not doing it,” Hayes was heard saying as he spoke to a frustrated teen in the video. “I have a five-year-old son and it ain’t happening!”
The video, packed with passion and purpose, went viral. It was seen and heard all around the world.
“What you see right now is going to happen ten years from now, and at 26 you’re going to be doing what I’m doing,” Hayes said as he spoke to the young man. “You understand that? Ten years you’ll be right here too, so what I need you to do right now at 16 is come up with a better way because how we doing it ain’t working.”
The powerful moments showed three completely different generations of Black men, all standing up for the same thing, achieving racial equality and justice—in the right way.
“He’s angry at 46, I’m angry at 31. You’re angry at 16,” Hayes said. “But putting yourself in harm’s way is not the way,” Hayes said.
Hayes says from the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement to today, the basis of the battle hasn’t changed, but he believes the way it’s been fought can.
“That day, they were able to see three generations of Black men fighting the same fight we’ve fought hundreds of years,” Hayes said. “How can we achieve the better way is what we’ve been trying to figure out.”
Images captured by cameras during the Civil Rights movement in the 50s and 60s don’t look all that different than they do today.
“You talk about recognizing the pioneers of the Civil Rights movement and equality for all people and I think about that same thing when I think of Black history, but I also think it’s time for us as Black Americans to step up.”
That’s why Hayes is working toward, and striving for change.
“I believe that genuine people can make genuine change so that day I was a genuine individual trying to make genuine change. And I thank God that I was there.”
Hayes launched the Better Way Movement shortly after that video went viral. He will be running for City Council At-Large during the next election and hopes he can continue to bring change to the Charlotte community.