On Saturday protesters gathered at Greenwich Town Hall for a Black Lives Matter march. The march was led by Justice for Brunch, a local group organized by six young activists aiming to improve the lives of the Black community by raising awareness of privilege and injustice.
The group leads protests during the time people are typically having brunch.
The march began at Town Hall at noon and moved down Greenwich Avenue, and ending at the Island Beach Ferry parking lot.
According to Fitzgerald Francois, who handles community outreach for Justice for Brunch, the goal of the protest was to “disrupt, not destruct.”
They accomplished this by chanting words such as “no justice, no peace,” “white silence is violence,” and “Black lives matter.” They urged onlookers on Greenwich Avenue to abandon their morning brunches or shopping to join the march, and the leaders periodically stopped to say a few words about racial injustice.
Some shoppers and diners clapped for the marchers or pulled out their cameras to take a video, while others simply looked on.
At about 1:00pm the march reached the Island Beach Ferry parking lot, where a dozen local speakers shared their thoughts and experiences of racism growing up in Greenwich or nearby towns including Darien and Norwalk, as well as provided information about how people can help.
Kiera Williams, a 17-year-old Norwalk resident, spoke of how her father was spat on and called the n-word by a white woman after they bumped into each other, and how her friend was pulled over and beaten for driving 6 miles over the speed limit.
“The only difference between me and anybody else is the melanin in my skin and the kinks in my hair, but underneath all that you and I bleed the same, you and I breathe the same,” Kiera said.
Brianna Green, another speaker, urged the people of Greenwich to use their voices to educate friends and family, and to demand changes in local schools. These changes include teaching Black history throughout the curriculum in kindergarten through 12th grade, hiring more Black teachers and administrators, and mandating that teachers be “trained to handle both covert and overt acts of racism in the classroom.”
Dre Lamont spoke about how racism is not just “the KKK or saying the n-word out loud,” but is present in casual interactions. He explained, “Racism exists in many forms such as microaggressions, which is defined as a statement or action that suddenly and often unconsciously expresses a prejudiced attitude towards a member of a marginalized group.”
He also expressed that white people should use their privilege to shut down racism everywhere they see or hear it. For example, he said if a white person sees a Black person being pulled over by the police, they have a responsibility to pull over as well, record the interaction, and wait to make sure that the Black person is okay.
“I want to shed light on the reason that we are protesting today. I want to stress that our fight is not white vs Black,” he said. “It is also not black vs cops. It is everyone vs. racism everywhere.”
Timothy Frazier, the head of operations of Justice for Brunch, shared his experience as a Black athlete at Greenwich High School. He explained that in school he was conflicted about sports because he loved participating in them, but also knew he was being exploited for his body when coaches cared more about how he did at races and games than how he was doing academically.
“Greenwich is far from the hood, so why are you telling me my only option is dribbling a basketball and running fast? I get it. you want me to be good enough to make you money, but not good enough to build my legacy.”– Timothy Frazier
Kyla, a resident of Darien, spoke about the education system, and how people could educate themselves and others about racism. She said, “If you are taught the history of a people at a young age, an age where you still have a moral compass, where you have not been altered by the society you are surrounded by, it humanizes that group of people.”
Kyla also said local school curriculums should be mandated to include Black history taught at all levels, not just during one month.
The leaders of Justice for Brunch shared that local politicians had reached out to the group to ask if they could speak to the protestors.
The group suggested that politicians could play the role of listening instead, but perhaps the leaders and protesters would collectively allow them time to speak if they came, but those politicians were absent from the protest.
The Justice for Brunch event was different from other local rallies, where politicians were often the first to speak.
They also emphasized that although there has already been a lot of change locally and throughout the country, there is still a long way to go.
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