ABC27 photojournalist shares personal story about covering protests


LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Across the country, there are many discussions about race, and ABC27 photojournalist Shelby Wormley is familiar with those discussions.

The camera was flipped this time, however, as Wormley shared her story about growing up as a black woman, going to protests as a six-year-old, and covering protests in Lancaster.

“Every summer my mom would get ready for the Unity March and we would march from Penn Park all the way to where Lillie Belle Allen was murdered because of her skin color,” she recalled.

Allen was fatally shot while driving through the predominantly white Newberry Street neighborhood in 1969 during the York race riots.

Wormley, who marched decades later with her family during the Unity March, said covering the current protests in Lancaster has been difficult.

“It was very surreal for me as a journalist,” she said. “It was very hard for me, for someone going to protests their whole life and not be able to shout or hold up signs and truly be part of it.”

Wormely said as a photojournalist, it’s her job to show the struggle of protesters marching in Lancaster.

“I think I had to tell myself, ‘I’m doing what I can,'” she explained. “I want people to see how exhausted some of these protesters are, and they keep marching. I feel like people were fighting for me when I couldn’t fight for myself.”

Wormley said as a black woman, it can be a struggle to get people to understand why her life matters.

“A lot of times we keep saying black lives matter, but for me, I’m showed time again, it really doesn’t,” she elaborated. “There are videos of cows being slaughtered and blocked out and blurred because it’s too hard to see, but it’s so easy to see a video of a man pleading for his life in his last few moments. It’s just so normal and for me, it’s traumatizing.”

Wormely said it’s especially hard when she recalls early moments in her career.

“I remember the first time I covered football,” she said. “It was my first time going out, and I was really excited, and I walked out onto a field and someone yelled out the n-word in front of hundreds of bystanders at this high school football game. I just had to remain cool and take it.”

Wormley said she’s heard others having encouraging conversations about race and she wants everyone to do the same.

“I encourage people in all areas to see what are the hard things and what I don’t want to talk about,” she said. “I think if we can learn the hard facts that aren’t always pretty, we’ll be better.”

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