Women build friendship in Ferguson protests

FERGUSON, Mo. - "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"

The chant rang through the streets like a drumbeat, and two women said the words as they walked side by side. They were complete strangers.

Tracy Fortenberry left the security of her South City home to wade into West Florissant. She saw other protesters, most of them African-American.

"I was the only white person out there at the time," Fortenberry said.

She walked beside a black woman who asked her directly, "Why are you out here?"

Cynthia Broadway didn't trust white people.

"I thought white people really didn't care about our issues, our community and our children, they were coming to be nosy or see how black people are going to act ," Broadway said.

As they marched together, they talked. They shared stories of getting tear gassed together and seeing rubber bullets fly.

"I was scared to death," Fortenberry said.

"She began to tell me how she has the assault rifles pointed at her. A couple nights before that, the police had got really mean with me and I was in tears" Broadway said.

They ended up on hallowed ground together on the parking lot of the Quiktrip. It became the symbol of the uprising in Ferguson.
"We are both small business owners, we both hurt , we're both passionate about things, we're both out here at this protest, we both want the same thing, justice for people," both woman said.

Their common cause changed them both.

"When you grow up (not liking white people) it really does something to you to grow up thinking a certain race of people hate you like that and you don't understand why. I'm thinking this lady does care that's why she's here. I found that some of them do care. I'm feeling something I've never felt before. If I can feel that way another black person or white person can feel that way. I got this spiritual. I didn't know I could feel that anybody place else but church," Broadway said.

Fortenberry had her own awakening. "I've been changed," she said.

"My color didn't matter, it was the content of my character, that's what she saw, and that's what I saw in her," said Broadway.
"We are friends, something I never thought it would happen, never anticipated being friends with a white girl. Now we're going to lunch and we're talking on the phone. If you just open up your heart and speak with a person of another race, change is possible," said Broadway.

Broadway and Fortenberry have walked through chaos and peace together, and now they're on the road to paving change together.


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