Under One Roof, Divergent Views on 'Black Lives Matter' | WBEZ
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Under One Roof, Divergent Views on 'Black Lives Matter'

Ranging in age from 12 to 95, left to right, LaCurtia Brown, Serra Williams, Sherrie Snipes-Williams, Genita Snipes, Alfredia Snipes, Judge Richard Fields, Liz Alston, and Albert Alston pose for a family portrait outside Liz and Albert Alston's home in Charleston, S.C. (Dustin Franz for NPR)

From Ferguson, to Baltimore, to Charleston, racially charged violence and protests dominated much of the news in 2015. While much of the country watched these events unfold, they had the deepest resonance in the cities at the center of them — going beyond the news and filtering into family living rooms and kitchens.

That's true of Liz Alston's family in Charleston, S.C. Six months ago, a white supremacist opened fire in a historically black Emanuel AME church in her city. Nine African-Americans were killed. Liz is the historian at that church, which is affectionately called Mother Emanuel — she's a self-described "political guru," and the 74-year-old matriarch of her family.

It's a family that is deeply political — all of them have voted in every presidential election they could. But, this campaign season, the political disagreements aren't necessarily about a specific presidential candidate, but, rather, a specific issue – the rise of protests around issues of race and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

BLM is a loosely organized group of young activists calling for racial justice; it sprung up after a series of high-profile police shootings.And, for Liz, BLM is a confusing new force.

Within her family, there's nearly unanimous agreement that racism is still a problem, but there's also plenty of disagreement about BLM and its protest tactics.

One Saturday afternoon this fall, Liz spent the afternoon with some of her relatives, as they often do, discussing politics, race, power, and protests at her home in the historic neighborhood of Old Charleston about a mile from Emanuel AME.

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