'They have a voice': Activist Taylor Hall will meet with Bethel AME's youth members in Spokane on Friday

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Jul. 15—Taylor Hall, an artist, activist and public speaker who assisted youth-driven activism against police brutality in her hometown of Indianapolis, will make an appearance at Spokane's Bethel AME Church on Friday.

Hall credits her passion for multi-faceted professions to the church.

"I grew up in the church because my grandfather was a pastor, and he's a president of a seminary now," Hall said. "Now I share the stories of my faith and how the church has helped me get to where I am now. The church is my home, so I always come back and speech to youth church groups."

On May 6, 2020, Indianapolis police Officer Dejoure Mercer killed Dreasjon "Sean" Reed in a traffic stop days after the Ahmad Arbery video in Georgia made national news. Reed and Hall were passing acquaintances. From that moment, she helped organize a summer protest that brought nearly 10,000 people to the Indiana Capitol. A singer and songwriter, Hall funnels her artistic craft through a political platform, coining the term "artivist" to encompass her mission.

"Through artivism, we're appealing to younger generations," Hall said. "I usually try to have other art mediums to get children involved to make a difference early."

Artivist is now an LLC that invests in community endeavors by working directly with Indianapolis' young artists and activists through its five pillars of diversity and inclusion, self-esteem, education, art and activism. At 20, Hall finished up a bachelor's degree in communications at Ball State University a year early and now travels the U.S. in her artivist role.

Hall mentioned her advocacy in social movements in an appearance in a virtual class for the United Theological Seminary earlier this year. That's how Hall met Betsy Williams, whose son, Charles L. Williams, serves as the youth minister at Bethel AME.

Williams became the youth minister in 2020, but strict lockdowns during the pandemic scattered the church's youth membership throughout the area. Williams recognized an uptick on the youth using their voices to combat racial discrimination at socially distanced protests and on social media. For Williams, Hall mirrors his goal to bring positive role models to the congregation's youth, closing the generational gap of Black activists.

"I want them to know they have a voice and they can be heard, and what better way to get that message out by someone young so they can be inspired to do the same," Williams said.

Hall will discuss the community work she's done in Indianapolis' protest movement and ways to implement Christian values when seeking justice. She'll also perform her debut 2020 single, "I Can't Breathe," and "Unfolding," a song she released Tuesday afternoon about growing pains.

Williams hopes Hall's message and presence will strike a chord with his young members.

"It's such a great way of getting the youth back together," Williams said. "They get motivation to do things in the community, see how it's done and learn how to listen and use their own voices as well."

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