By Anuoluwapo A. Adefiwitan

Kenny Sway Photo 3
A photo of Kenny Sway from his Instagram account
Courtesy of Kenny Sway

As the day approached dusk on June 3, the smooth tones of Kenny Sway’s voice fell over a sea of flickering cell phones. Sway’s rendition of the famous Bill Withers’ song “Lean on Me” enveloped protestors near Lafayette Square.


Since the viral cell phone video of Floyd’s death surfaced on social media, protestors have again taken to the streets as part of the Black Lives Matter movement to sound the alarm for change. Discussions about police brutality and the rootedness of systemic racism in America have dominated the news cycle and dinner tables across America.


“The greatest weapon that was given to us was a phone,” Sway said during a phone interview. 


In Sway’s case, cell phone footage of his performance has made him locally famous. The 28-year-old Hyattsville resident began singing when he was 5 years old and said that music has always been a part of his life. “My mom always had music in the house when we were young,” explained Sway. “Leading up to that protest, it was something normal for me.” 


Before stepping into the streets to protest, Sway admitted that he stayed back to really take in all that had been happening. He said that his main desire when he took the stage was to inspire. 


“I just wanna create an atmosphere filled with love and peace,” noted Sway. “I want people to have a change of thought when they are listening to my music … Music plays a big part in how you can shift [someone’s] mindset,” he observed. 

Kenny Sway Photo 1
A photo of Kenny Sway from his Instagram account
Courtesy of Kenny Sway

Sway acknowledges that the charge towards justice and true racial equality is far from over. He has committed himself to fighting until he and others like him receive what they deserve as human beings. “We cannot stop marching. We cannot stop protesting at any cost,” asserted Sway. 


“George didn’t get called home; he was sent home,” said Sway. “He had a young daughter; I have a young daughter, so it touched me in that way. She has to grow up without a dad.” 


Sway believes that his performance of “Lean on Me”  encouraged peace between the protestors and police officers that night. In some videos of Sway’s performance, police can be spotted taking pictures and singing along with the crowd. 

Kenny Sway Photo 2
A photo of Kenny Sway from his Instagram account
Courtesy of Kenny Sway

“Nobody would’ve denied that there was peace right there,” Sway remarked. 


Anuoluwapo A. Adefiwitan is a summer intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times.