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Called to comfort those who mourn

Taylor Hall, a 19-year-old Indianapolis college student, feels called to use her voice to speak out for those who can't stand up for themselves. Photo courtesy of Taylor Hall.
Taylor Hall, a 19-year-old Indianapolis college student, feels called to use her voice to speak out for those who can't stand up for themselves. Photo courtesy of Taylor Hall.
Indianapolis activist Taylor Hall performs her song, "I Can't Breathe," at a peaceful protest advocating for racial justice. Photo courtesy of Taylor Hall.
Indianapolis activist Taylor Hall performs her song, "I Can't Breathe," at a peaceful protest advocating for racial justice. Photo courtesy of Taylor Hall.
Taylor Hall, 19-year-old Indianapolis college student, believes her call is to use her voice for those who can't stand up for themselves. Photo courtesy of Taylor Hall.
Taylor Hall, 19-year-old Indianapolis college student, believes her call is to use her voice for those who can't stand up for themselves. Photo courtesy of Taylor Hall.

When Taylor Hall reads Isaiah 61, the 19-year-old Indianapolis woman hears her call in those verses,  especially the words, “…to comfort all who mourn….”

“I would say God definitely wants me in a leadership role to use my voice to advocate for people who can’t,” Hall says. “Isaiah 61 is for me.”

Putting her call into hyper drive in recent months, the college junior is working against racial injustice by forming a non-profit named Black Women in Charge, organizing peaceful protests and recording and releasing a song and video titled, “I Can’t Breathe.”

Hall has taken her spot in a family legacy started by her grandfather, the Rev. Dr. Kent Millard, former senior pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and president of United Theological Seminary.

Hall, who was baptized and grew up at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, often heard the stories of when her grandfather marched alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s.

“He always came to my school and talked about standing up for what’s right,” Hall recalls from when she was younger. “He inspired me. He was in college when he marched with Martin Luther King,” she points out. “I feel like if he did that, I should be able to do that as well.”

Prior to a recent protest in Indianapolis, she asked her grandfather for advice. He told her to be nonviolent but to use her voice and speak out against injustices.

At that gathering of tens of thousands, Hall performed her song, “I Can’t Breathe,” which was written by Hall’s father, Eddie Hall. The song incorporates the phrase repeated by George Floyd (and others) before dying as a result of police brutality. The video combines images from 2020 with photos from the 1960s civil rights movement.

“I Can’t Breathe” is Hall’s first single.

“I had never released any music before,” she points out, “but I felt called to put this message out there.”

Hall’s calendar is beginning to fill as she speaks and performs at fundraisers, youth rallies and other nonprofit events. It is at these events where people often ask Hall what they can do, a question for which she gives three calls to action:  

  • Vote
  • Be a friend
  • Stand up and speak out

The three simple – but not always easy – steps mean “making friends with people who don’t necessarily look like you,” she explains. “And stand up when you see something that’s wrong, no matter what the situation is. You have the privilege to stand and be an ally.”

Most days, Hall is encouraged by what is happening around the United States with peaceful protests and important conversations. On the days when she feels overwhelmed, she says that God is quick to send an encourager.

“Sometimes it’s a family member who calls to tell me something that they felt moved to share or it’s a Bible verse that comes up on my phone app or a sermon that I’ve heard that day,” she shares.
“I really do get a message from God that tells me to keep going.”

Crystal Caviness works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email or by calling 615-742-5138.

This story was published August 4, 2020.

Join us August 26, 2020, for a Town Hall discussion with a group of emerging leaders who discuss their strategies to dismantle racism. Learn more here.