From Trayvon Martin To George Floyd, A Dad And Son Keep Protesting For Equality Albert and Aidan Sykes have protested against racial injustice for years. What makes this moment especially tough, says Aidan, 14, "is knowing that could have been me."
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From Trayvon Martin To George Floyd, A Dad And Son Keep Protesting For Equality

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From Trayvon Martin To George Floyd, A Dad And Son Keep Protesting For Equality

From Trayvon Martin To George Floyd, A Dad And Son Keep Protesting For Equality

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last week on StoryCorps, we heard from Albert Sykes and his son, Aidan. They live in Jackson, Miss. Aiden was 9 years old when they recorded that conversation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

AIDAN SYKES: Why do you take me to protests so much?

ALBERT SYKES: (Laughter) I think I take you for a bunch of reasons. One is that I want you to see what it looks like when people come together, but also that you understand that it's not just about people that are familiar to you. But it's about everybody. Did you know the work that Martin Luther King was doing was for everybody, and it wasn't just for black people?

AIDAN SYKES: Yes. I understand that.

MARTIN: That was five years ago. This week, StoryCorps invited them back to record another interview.

AIDAN SYKES: What do you think about the protests that are happening now?

ALBERT SYKES: I hate that they necessary. But I also appreciate that we living in a world that we borrowed to be able to give back to the folks who come behind us. And your responsibility when you borrow something is to give it back in the same condition. But if you can give it back in better condition, that's the goal. So the protests that you were just at on Saturday in Jackson, when you looked around, how did you take that in?

AIDAN SYKES: Oh, I was happy because I saw a lot of young people like me out there, people of all ages and all colors and all shapes and all sizes. And I was like, at least we got some backup.

ALBERT SYKES: What's been the hardest part of dealing with all of this for you?

AIDAN SYKES: The hardest part is knowing that could've been me. And Breonna Taylor could've been my mother.

ALBERT SYKES: Next month, you turn 15. You're growing up, getting so tall and getting hair on your face. And just your presence - some places, people don't see the child in you. They don't see the innocence in you. Even though you not a threat, you're still perceived as a threat. But when I look at you, not only do I see somebody who looks just like me, I see a beautiful kid coming into understanding himself. I see somebody who makes me proud, up and down.

AIDAN SYKES: Being black, it's one of the best things and one of the most beautiful things you could ever be. But it's like you always have a target on your back.

ALBERT SYKES: Yeah. I want you to always understand that you was born with everything it take for you to survive in this world. So keep the wind pushing you forward. And you keep the sun shining on your face. I mean, we had talks about how much you mean to me and things that I have learned from you - how to love endlessly. And I tell people, like, that's my hero.

AIDAN SYKES: Knowing that I'm your hero is one of the best things I could ever hear. And the most important lesson I've learned from you is, when you want something, keep fighting for it. Don't let nobody tell you you can't. And no matter who or what gets in your way, keep going.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "SURLY BONDS")

MARTIN: Aidan Sykes talking with his dad, Albert. They recorded this interview using StoryCorps Connect. And their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress.

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