Many gathered at Ed Davis Park to pray, voice concern and attempt to bridge a gap that Perfecting Praise Center Senior Pastor LaRon Tanksley says is long overdue.
Before marching from Chambers Avenue to the courthouse, discussions were had between community members of different backgrounds on what changes are needed to better bring people together.
Community members brought up points of holding people accountable and communicating.
For Rodney Mason, he wants to see those in the community show up and stay involved even after racism is no longer the “hot-button” topic.
“Racism is a hot-button,” Mason said to the crowd. “But, where are you going to be when all this is not fashionable? Where are you going to be when the news media is not showing up to take the pictures? Where are you going to be?”
Others spoke up saying they need relationships with people who are different than they are.
Kiana Fields, who works in diversity and inclusion said it is important to “check your inventory.”
“One of the things that we have people do is check their inventory,” Fields said. “Check who they hang out with. What neighborhoods that they frequently visit. What neighborhoods they have lived in their life. Check what type of perspective you are (seeing).
‘Your perception is reality. And if you don’t have the ability to perceive a different truth than what you’ve been revealed to, then that’s where we get our blind spots.”
Humility is important when having these conversations, she said.
“It’s being intentional and it’s being humble,” Fields said. “You have to be humble that your experience is just that, it’s your experience. And that other people are also experiencing other things.
“That doesn’t make your experience any less valuable. It just means that someone else is experiencing something else.”
Several in the crowd felt inspired by the actions of the local group of peaceful protestors known as ’30 Steps Ahead’ and others.
“I think it’s important to understand, one of the reasons why we are here is because of these young people,” Tyrone Johnson said “If you go back in history, in the Civil Rights Movement, one of the reasons why that push was so hard, too, was that a lot of young people got involved. A lot of young people were protesting. Not only young people, but people from all walks of life.”
This current movement happening around the country is different, Johnson said.
“The Civil Rights bill was signed in ’68. That’s the year I was born. And for 52 years, we’ve made some progress, but there’s so much more that could have been done.
“And I can say, our generation, yeah, we kind of dropped the ball a little bit because we got comfortable. We got comfortable. Saying, ‘we’re not going what our parents went through.’ ‘We got some good jobs,’
“But there are so many others that are still facing, you know, just hard racism. And now, the young generation has said, ‘you know what? Enough is enough.’”
Tanksley hopes that the prayer rally brings productivity.
“This is a step in the right direction for bringing unity and bringing awareness to the systemic racism that is going on, not just in Georgetown but in our nation and in the world,” Tanksley said.
Voices need to be heard beyond the protests and rallies, he said.
“I believe it starts at city council meetings,” Tanksley said. “You know, we can have these rallies, but why rally and protest here but we don’t let our voice be heard at city council meetings? So there’s different varieties. Different elements that we must participate in.
“But this, again, I’m pleased that this it’s a great start to what we want to see. Which is called, change.”
James Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.