Every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. in Los Angeles on the corner of Victory Boulevard and Canoga Avenue near the Orange Line station, a group meets to promote a message of love and unity.
Six months ago, Samson Tupuola and Emily Alvarado decided to start the group Orange Aligned in reaction to the news of George Floyd’s death.
As protests rose around the country, Tupuola and Alvarado decided it was time to take action.
“It was honestly just a conversation that Samson and I were having,” Alvarado said. “We were just seeing the news and everything that was going on with the protests and George Floyd. We were just moved to be a part of it.”
Tupuola said he felt God pushed him further to pursue this idea and that he was being called to start the group.
“I felt that God had put it on our hearts,” Tupuola said. “We knew we had a part to play. We were led by God to do that. We were led by our faith.”
Every week, Tupuola, Alvarado and others display signs with positive and empowering phrases.
In addition to spreading awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, they also aim to promote the idea of unity and inclusiveness.
Tupuola said that despite feeling like only a little growth has occurred in the movement in the past few months, he remains optimistic.
“If we can’t see that little blessing of the Black Lives Matter movement elevating, even if it’s just a little, then we’re never going to see if we want this huge change,” Tupuola said. “We have to understand it takes little pieces.”
Crystal Quesada, a member of Orange Aligned, said the inspiring messages and emphasis on being in touch with faith was what brought her to join the group.
“I found a safe place to kind of have a voice, so I stuck with it,” Quesada said. “We are out there fighting racial injustices and racism alone, but were also a team working on our faith. We believe that our faith is the only thing that is going to get us through this.”
Quesada also says she simply wanted to fight for what was right. She grew up around many people of color, so she said it was never a matter of color or race. It was about fighting for what people deserved.
“Before, I never really got into activism,” Quesada said. “But when this happened, it was a place and time that I felt was important as a person to get out and do something — to continue that fight, because it still isn’t over.”
Quesada wants others to know that racism is a very present problem and that we all need to dig within ourselves to become more inclusive and welcoming with one another.
“We all at some point have been racist in some way or form, whether it’s through microaggression, or even towards our own race,” Quesada said. “It’s so easy to judge, but so hard to reflect. What more you can do to make racism go away is what the key is to all of this.”
Alvarado said she wants others to know that change won’t happen unless people continue to push for further action.
“You’re able to make a change, but it has to happen within,” Alvarado said. “It needs to come from a place of love. Where do you stand, do you have hate?”
Follow Orange Aligned on Instagram to find out more about what they do.