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Full Circle

The summer of 2020 was a powderkeg of uncertainty, anger, and fear. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on throughout the world with no end in sight, another more sinister virus reared its ugly head. Video footage of the death of George Floyd, which had gone viral, shocked and horrified every viewer it found its way to. Before we all knew it, every major city around the world was up in arms protesting to show their support of the African-American community.

Harkening to sit-ins and marches of the 50s and 60s, newcomers and veterans to the human and civil rights movements came together in a way we hadn’t quite seen before. Here in Los Angeles, California was no different. Given the city’s global exposure, most of us Angelinos felt it was our duty to stand up with one another. Up until then, I had never been to any protest of the size and magnitude of the rallies I was a part of in those summer months.

(Courtesy of James Ken Blackmon)

We braved our fears of retaliation from those who were meant to protect us, so that we may respond to the hate and violence with a more powerful message. That we are stronger together no matter your race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. I watched as some of the most unlikely comrades marched with clear unrelenting focus. The energy amongst the crowds was palpable and immensely inspiring. So much so, that in the middle of one of the biggest civil events L.A. has seen in decades, sponsored by Black Lives Matter and estimated at around 50,000 people, I began an impromptu performance. I had been riding my Harley motorcycle alongside other protesters marching when we came to the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and La Brea Avenue. Being an actor, I’ve always been taught to listen, feel, then react. That whole week I had done nothing but listen to the cries of my fellow humans, feel every bit of sorrow for the current state of the world, and now I was in an unstoppable wave of reaction.

While the crowd continued to walk south down La Brea crossing Sunset, I pulled off and parked my motorbike in the center of the busy intersection. Initially, I had just intended to block everyone from the oncoming traffic, but something began to take me over. I got down on my knees next to my Harley with my hands in the air, simulating a run-in with law enforcement gone wrong. Slowly, others began to join me one by one until there were eight of us standing up against an endless sea of cars.

(Courtesy of James Ken Blackmon)

My emotions swelled as I reached a tipping point. I felt deeply connected to my community, but even more so, I felt connected to those who didn’t have a voice anymore, the ones who have fallen at the hands of ignorance. I wanted to give those victims of violence their voice back, and so I did. I addressed the onlookers as if they were the officers that had pulled me over with all the passion I could muster. At that moment, all I could think about was relaying what these souls must’ve felt, I begged and pleaded for my life at the top of my lungs until I couldn’t speak. Finally, I rejoined the seven that helped me keep the traffic at bay till the thousands behind us fully traversed the crossing. Leaving the heaviness of what just transpired at the junction we returned to the procession snaking its way through the city.

Nearly a year later, I connected with a new peer via social media and as we were talking, she asked if I had been at that particular protest. It turns out that she was there at the intersection and watched the performance in its entirety. She expressed how much it meant to her being there at that time with us all, and how it inspired her to reach out to others in her own way. I was completely taken back by the full circle and felt reinvigorated to continue to support my community when it needs me. It also highlighted our connectivity and the effects my actions have on the people around me. Even though the protests have cooled off quite a bit, we don’t have to wait for another emergency for us to come together. We can shine light into the dark corners little by little, day by day with random acts of kindness – hopefully, one day making protests truly a thing of the past.

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James Ken Blackmon

James Ken Blackmon, Actor, Producer and Entrepreneur, moved from Brooklyn, NY to Los Angeles, CA in early 2012. James dialed in to the heartbeat of LA being apart of many notable productions both in an acting and producing capacity. Additionally, James was an owner of the famous TRIco store in Hollywood. In 2014, James was in a serious motorcycle accident, one in which he didn’t walk for nearly a year. But as soon as he got the thumbs-up from doctors he was back in the saddle again, booking his second ad-campaign with Harley-Davidson Motorcycle. And then on to be apart of the politically charged video “Formation” by Beyonce. Following that James was a rider in Katy Perry's "Harley's In Hawaii" music video. Reaching behind the camera is the latest in the natural evolution of this creative talent, as he has co-produced the buzz-worthy documentary SUGAR & SPADE. James is currently producing the screenplay for a feature-length film based on the documentary.

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