Image credit: Michael Isabell
This week we hear from Ciarda Hall and Justice McCray, two of the young people of color who are involved in organizing marches for racial justice under the name Beacon4BlackLives. In addition to Ciarda and Justice, Beacon4BlackLives includes Stefon Seward, Xavier Mayo, Amina Tarriq, Jesus Velasquez and Cedric Barksdale. They range in age from 19 to about 23.
Their next march is this Friday June 19 – aka Juneteenth. Starting time is 6:30pm and location is Polhill Park.
Immediately after George Floyd’s killing, Ciarda recalls, “For the first week I wasn’t moving from my bed.”
Justice had a similar experience. He says, “Before the protests, I was honestly afraid to go out. Because it wasn’t just George Floyd’s death. It was Ahmaud Arbery. It was Breonna Taylor. People who looked like me were being punished and being killed for just being outside.”
But their fear and grief gave way to determination. “Let me see what I can make happen in my own town,” Ciarda remembers thinking. “I need to do something while I’m home, while I have a platform.”
She started spreading the word about a Main Street march, but she didn’t identify herself as the organizer. “I knew that people were getting in trouble, getting killed or getting hurt for standing up.”
When she showed up, she found hundreds of people had arrived. It was on that day that she met Stefon Seward and Xavier Mayo, who spontaneously became chant leaders. “Since then the three of us have been together every day.”
Justice attended the same march but didn’t join the team until the second event.
“I’ve seen protests happen in Beacon and it’s usually just 10 or 15 people standing in Polhill park,” he said. “When I got there and there were way more than 10 or 15 people there…. I was so moved that my community was standing there shouting that black lives matter, that I mattered.”
Also in this episode: The mayor’s speech, Beacon’s police force, sustaining the momentum, how to get involved.