OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – An Opelika couple, whose family photo with their young son is reaching millions of people worldwide, is speaking with News 3 about their message of love and unity for all.
Darrell and Amanda Sistrunk have been married for three years.
“This is my lifeline, my spirit. She came into my life, and it’s been wonderful ever since,” shared Darrell.
Amanda feels the same way.
“He is such a blessing to my family and me. I am so glad God put him in our lives,” shared Amanda.
The Opelika couple has a blended family of six older children. Together they adopted John, who came to the family when he was a baby.
“We took him in, and he is ours. He is ours, and we love him very much,” shared Amanda.
The family enjoys wearing matching shirts and posting pictures of their outfits on social media. When News 3 visited the couple, Darrell and his son John were wearing matching Superman shirts.
“It’s how we express the love we have for each other. The love I have for him as my son, we dress alike,” shared Darrell.
For Darrell’s Birthday, the couple posted a picture of Darrell in a White Lives Matter shirt. Amanda was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt, and John was wearing an All Lives Matter shirt. Amanda shared the picture to her page, with the caption: Praying for the world #unity. Darrell says the shirts were his idea to show how his family is working from the inside out to unite and not divide.
“It was my idea to make the shirts and show unity within my family, because like my grandma Anna Ruth used to say, start with your family first and then heal the outside. It was not to take away from the Black Lives Matter Movement. It was to start a conversation of how we will heal, together,” shared Darrell.
So far, the family photo has reached more than 17 million people all over several social media platforms, with thousands of shares and comments.
“We were shocked; we were shocked. If I would have known, I would have worn more makeup,” said Amanda.
The public’s reaction is varied. Many love the picture and thanked the family for showing unity and compassion for all. Many didn’t like the photo believing it takes away from the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“As for the comments, we love them all, because you are expressing yourself and we are expressing ourselves showing unity. We have to start this conversation and start to heal,” said Darrell.
Other comments questioned Darrell’s role as John’s father. Because Darrell is black and John is white.
“My reaction is, yes, he’s mine. That’s what my paperwork says. I’m going to give him the best life I can give him. We adopted him. He needed love, and he brought love into this family, and we are going to give love back,” said Darrell.
Darrell and Amanda hope the photo starts a conversation, not controversy.
“The final word is unity; let’s heal together. We want peace for everybody. We are stepping out, and I am putting my family on the front line for unity in America. We love you, America. Don’t be scared to have the conversation. We must have it,” said both Darrell and Amanda.
The east Alabama couple believes love wins over hate. Unity is better than division. The Sistrunk Family hopes America can begin to heal and prevent further division by raising sons and daughters like they are raising John, to show love and respect to all.