The Extraordinary Courage of Samantha Francine

This photo by Grace Jensen of Whitefish, Montana is one of the most powerful portraits of courage I have ever seen. It shows a large, belligerent white man aggressively towering over a smaller black woman at a Black Lives Matter rally. The woman is Samantha Francine. She stands, resolute, calm, unflinching, looking the man in the eye.

Video of the event also captures the confrontation. As the protesters chant “Peaceful,” the man screams, “F*** all of you.”

Samantha Francine told her story: “I have been trying to find my words about this moment for the last few days. For all who have reached and checked on me, thank you. For all of you that have stood by my side, THANK YOU! I want to start off saying I am so proud to be standing there with all of you, especially you beautiful teenagers! There is a lot of emotion and it’s awesome that your generation is leading the way. Secondly I have received so much love from family, friends, and strangers! It’s been overwhelmingly beautiful. My perception of myself and how others see me are vastly different and you all have given me so much love and support. Thank you. A friend of mine sent me a screenshot of this photo the day it was posted by my beautiful friend Grace Jensen. With everything going on I immediately just thought ‘wow, what a powerful photo,’ then I realized it was me. The words are still hard to find, but I wanted to share the one thing that did go through my mind in this moment. As a child, I grew up with a single white father and who was originally from Chicago. He taught us from a young age that things were going to be different for us just because of the color of our skin. One of the things he use to remind us constantly was that ‘no matter the threat, always look them in the eye so they have to acknowledge you’re human.’ My father pased 16 years ago this month. In this moment, those are the words that went through my head. When I lifted up my glasses, he saw me. I saw him. He was acting out fear, I know that. I hold no malice in my heart for this man. I hope this moment will soften him. I hope he will be changed. But even if he isn’t, I am. Yes I had power this day, but I couldn’t have done it without all of the courageous people around me. We are stronger united and in this moment I felt the that. Whether you will be standing with us tonight, or holding space, I ask you to join US as we continue to be apart of the change. Dear Whitefish, big things are coming. It’s going to be beautiful!”

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