When Kwame Rose shouted down Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera at a protest over Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore in 2015, the confrontation went viral—and launched Rose as a key activist in the city.
Rose accused Rivera, in his coverage of the protests, of only caring about the so-called “riots” and not about Black lives or Baltimore’s social issues. Rose, now 26, says the incident changed his life overnight.
“I didn't ask for any of this or this platform, but it was given to me for a purpose. And that purpose was to do whatever work necessary to make sure people don't have to live and be subjugated to the conditions in which Freddie Gray and his siblings were born and raised in.”
Rose's viral fame launched five years ago, and has since given him more opportunities to speak with leaders around the world. Rose says he worked with black immigrant refugees in Germany and even met with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016.
“I've been able to be in rooms and voice opinions that normally wouldn't be heard,” Rose says.
The young activist is continuing his advocacy work in his hometown through World Central Kitchen (WCK), a nonprofit that provides meals to vulnerable communities through donations from local restaurants and other businesses. At the height of the pandemic, Rose helped launch WCK’s Baltimore branch and now runs the city’s meal distribution.
“So far, we've done over 500,000 meals. We serve these communities dignified food, seven days a week, and have been doing so since April,” Rose says.
Following the death of George Floyd, Rose continued to push for social change in his hometown and advocated for peaceful protests, just as he did five years ago.
“I live by this quote that says, ‘It's not about the life you live; it's about the legacy you leave behind,’” Rose says. “I've tried to utilize my platform in the best way possible to actually make tangible change in communities because once the protests stop, the problems still exist.”