A 9-year-old boy held a Black Lives Matter protest in his own front yard Saturday, asking neighbors to treat each other with respect and kindness as tense standoffs between police and protesters continue.
"There's been a lot of crazy things happening for the past few days and I wanted to make people feel happy," Aiden Kelley said.
Aiden's mom, Katya Kelley, explained that a neighbor encouraged families living on the street to draw hearts in their driveways in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Aiden grabbed a bucket of chalk and got to work, she said, turning the sidewalk outside his Chicago home into a masterpiece full of hearts, flags and hands embracing.
"He was outside doing this all Saturday," Katya said. "Our neighborhood is really tight and he was trying to encourage people that were just driving by. Some would stop and help him, others would tell him to keep up the good work."
But after learning more about the Black Lives Matter movement in a conversation with his mom, Aiden decided to make his message more direct
"I made a Black Lives Matter sign in case people didn't know what I was doing, they could see I was holding the sign, walking around and showing it with my drawings," Aiden said.
Katya said she considered bringing Aiden and his younger siblings to Chicago to take part in the protests in person, but refrained due to unrest.
Still, she said she made sure her son learned about the protesters' message of justice and watched coverage of peaceful protests from home.
Neighbors took notice of the third-grader's efforts, and one even snapped a photo of Aiden from across the street and shared the young activist's message online. The post has since received tens of thousands of retweets and likes from people commending Aiden for his initiative.
"Adorable and powerful picture," one user commented.
"This generation gives me hope. I see you little man. I see you," another chimed in.
Aiden's mom said his classmates at Andrew Jackson Language Academy heard about the chalk drawings during a virtual class Monday and were inspired to start their own sidewalk drawings at home.
"People said they appreciated my support for love and kindness," Aiden said.