A movement for equality that began in large cities has spread to rural areas, including Fulton County.
A youth walk for Black Lives Matter was held June 8 in Delta. The peaceful event began with area residents speaking at the park near the pool before a walk down Taylor Street and Eastwood Drive.
The event was organized by Jessica Gilbert, Jessica York, and Shawna Grant.
“One day Shawna’s daughter came to her and asked about George Floyd, she asked if what she saw on her phone was true,” Gilbert said. “Shawna told her that it was in fact true and it brought up the Black Lives Matter movement and her daughter really wanted to do something to help.”
Organizers at first weren’t sure where to start, but they felt they needed to show Shawna’s daughter and their other children that it’s important to speak out about injustice, according to Gilbert.
Grant and York contacted several people with some showing interest and some not. One that did show interest was Gilbert.
“We met up, discussed what we wanted this to look like. All of us are mothers who want our children to grow up to be good, empathetic, and kind people. And we’re all outraged by systematic racism and police brutality,” said Gilbert. “All of us are white, so while we never can understand what it feels like to worry each time our child leaves the house, we can put ourselves in the shoes of black mothers everywhere.
“We felt that it is our moral obligation to stand up for justice and racial equality. And honestly, what kind of example would we set for our children if we couldn’t do something like this.”
Gilbert said there was some fear when organizing the event because attitudes about Black Lives Matter aren’t always positive.
”People would think we hated police in general and many don’t even recognize that white privilege is a real thing,” she said. “That fear for us, speaking out in our community is absolutely nothing compared to what black people and other people of color go through on a daily basis in our country.”
The march began near the playground on Taylor Street and headed north on the sidewalk before turning west on Eastwood Drive. Chants including “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace” were repeated as the crowd held various signs in support of the movement.
The Delta Police Department was on hand and helped with traffic control when the protesters turned onto Eastwood Drive where there are no sidewalks.
“[The police] were with us every step of the way and even asked what the protesters needed from them,” Gilbert said. “This kind of communication was very appreciated and I think it helped keep some negative energy from bothering the kids and families who were walking.”
There was also support from local churches. Ang LaGreca, a youth pastor from the Methodist church gave a prayer before the walk.
“It was an emotional and moving experience and I hope that it started an open dialogue about race in Delta,” said Gilbert. “We do plan to continue being vocal about issues and bringing awareness to our community and youth.”
A similar event is planned in Wauseon on Saturday. A Fulton County Solidarity March will begin at noon at Reighard Park.
Following an 8 minute 46 second moment of silence in memory of George Floyd and others, there will be speakers and then a march to the Fulton County Courthouse on Fulton Street.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010