Raised in Nigeria, Emily Anadu grew up in surroundings where people were primarily concerned with nationalities or tribes as they thought of identities. She “became hyper aware of race” when she moved to the United States in the sixth grade. May 30th of 2020 is an instance of this hyperawareness that she will never forget as she walked through Fort Greene Park. The night before was a powerful protest which led to the torching of an NYPD van, but the next morning she saw that everyone seemed to return to their regularly scheduled lives as if George Floyd’s murder had never happened. Emily couldn’t help but feel a “sense of hopelessness” as she watched the park go from a place which, 10 years ago, would have been a safe space for Black people of the community to come together to a space that so quickly washed away Black pain.
From then on, she dedicated herself to the work of reclaiming Fort Greene Park for the Black community to be heard and feel welcomed. She took time every morning to walk through the park and discard trash as she tended to the ashes that spelled out Black Lives Matter and had been born from the burning NYPD van. Over the summer, Ms. Anadu helped organize The Lay Out, a series of gatherings in which the Black community came together and took up space in a sense of solidarity and protest through jubilation. Moreover, Ms. Anadu worked with her fellow organizers of The Lay Out to get a bench dedicated to the memory of George Floyd and all of the other lives lost to police brutality, and another painted the colors of the PanAfrican flag. In the future, Emily plans to continue to tend to the ashes of the protests and inspire a sense of community for Black people at Fort Greene through The Lay Out.