Porsha Williams is opening up about her first experience with racism that dates back to her childhood.
The 38-year-old reality star of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” is the granddaughter of civil rights leader and activist Hosea Williams. In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the recent Black Lives Matter protests, she joined Bravo host Andy Cohen on the Monday, June 8 “Watch What Happens Live” segment, and reflected on the bigotry she encountered while protesting alongside her grandfather.
“I was about six years old when I went to my first march,” Williams recalled. “I was excited to go. You know, as a little kid, you finally get to go to work with your granddad… and we get out there and I’m excited.”
However, it wasn’t long into the protest when the reality television starlet and her grandfather came across a group of Klansmen.
“We came across Ku Klux Klan who decided they were going to protest our protest. They threw rocks at us; I actually got hit with one. They chased us all the way back to buses; we had busloads of people with us,” Williams explained. “They called us the N-word and any other thing you can imagine the KKK would be calling us.”
It seems Williams is referring to one of two Forsyth County Civil Rights Marches in January 1987. Her grandfather, famed civil rights leader Rev. Hosea Williams — then an Atlanta City Council member — marched with a group of protesters near Cumming, Georgia. The marches were to protest Forsyth County’s long history of racial intolerance.
Williams said the incident smacked her in the “face with racism.” However, the mother of one said knowing she was a part of something so impactful makes her “feel empowered.”
“I didn’t understand it. So of course after that there was a conversation with my dad when I got home to let me know that some people do hate you, even though you may be trying to do a good thing, Williams recalled from the conversation with her father. “But what I got out of that is to keep going regardless. I never saw my grandfather stop. I never saw my dad stop, and the movement is still continuing on.”
On June 1, Williams and her fiancé Dennis McKinley protested in downtown Atlanta to take action against police brutality and systemic racism. Police officers, however, sprayed them and other protesters with tear gas.
“Yes, I took some gas and to my eyes and I had to have milk and water poured in my face. Listen, I’m all right, I’m all right,” Williams told Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday, June 9. “Everyone else who’s out there fighting the good fight, they will also be all right, but it has to be known, it has to be demanded, that we are able to peacefully protest. It is the voice of the people — this is how they are being heard.
She continued, “The message that we have is not going to die; it’s not. George Floyd will not have died in vain. Breonna Taylor will not have died in vain, and the other people who have been victims of police brutality will not have died in vain.”