When Marjorie Alston attended a Black Lives Matter protest in North Carolina with her boyfriend, she went carrying a sign but left wearing a ring on her finger.
In the midst of marching, chanting and uniting with fellow protesters, 26-year-old Xavier Young got down on one knee and asked Alston to be his wife.
“I had no idea I would propose at the protest,” Young told CNN. “But when we decided to go, I threw the ring in my bag along with protest gear. When things slowed down a bit, I made it seem like I was grabbing some water, pulled out the ring, and asked her to marry me.”
Photographer Charles Crouch was at the protest in Raleigh on May 30 and captured the heartwarming moment in what he called “divine timing.” After the proposal, he and the couple ended up becoming friends.
Alston, 23, who is four months pregnant with the couple’s first child, said she knew Young would find a bold way to propose to her. But when he did it at the protest, she was completely shocked – and immediately said yes.
“I wasn’t really expecting this, but I loved it. It was very sweet and memorable. I know I will remember the moment forever,” Alston said.
‘Black lives matter and black love matters’
Alston and Young met in the summer of 2018 when they were working at a laser tag entertainment center, but it wasn’t love at first sight.
“The first thing I said to her was, ‘Oh my God, is that your voice, stop talking’,” Young laughed. “And then we fell in love.”
The proposal did more than solidify their love – it connected them to their community and symbolized hope for the future, he said.
The newly engaged couple were protesting police brutality and racial injustice, along with many others who’ve taken to the streets across the United States since May 25, when a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by kneeling on his neck.
Young said he hopes the proposal brought something beautiful to an otherwise difficult and painful time.
“It’s important for black people, people who look like Marjorie and I, to see images of black love amid everything that’s going on and happening recently,” he said. “Black lives matter and black love matters because with our love we can heal each other and begin to address the trauma of being black in America.”
After the sweet proposal, the two got back up and continued protesting, something they plan to keep doing until there is change.