Sunday Afternoon June 7, 2020 I attended my first public protest. It was Black Lives Matter and was held in the community where I live, The Market Commons.
Just before leaving to go over a friend shared in a phone call a word from his pastor in small town Georgia. “The white Christian needs to wake up and go to African Americans and Listen, Learn and Love”
So, that became my first protest poster, “LISTEN, LEARN AND LOVE.” I have kept it to use in my next opportunity.
I know protests can vary a great deal but here was my experience.
The protest was peaceful and was a range of skin colors. I was welcomed, offered bottles of water, and was greeted with, “Bless you for coming.”
I sensed that my presence made a difference.
Most of the crowd were young adults –the age of my own childern and they were respectful and open to this old man with gray hair and beard (Who needed a haircut because of the CV19 virus restrictions). The crowd was diverse including some visible LBGTQ rainbow draped folks. But all seemed ot be very open to the speakers and musicans.
There were several speakers and singers who were young, very articulte and while passionate, they were very balanced. Several were clear they did not support destructive looting or damage and wanted to respect the rule of law even if they felt that some in law enforcement did not respect them.
They focused on the laws and how those laws are implemented. There were specific cases cited of needed changes.
The biggest surprise to me was how clearly Biblical truth and the preaching of a Gospel of Love, Forgiveness and Reconciliation was held up as THE only hope to change a life on the heart level. There was a strong world view on EVERY person being made in the image of God as the basis for a just society. Jesus was presented as a peace maker provided by God. Anything seperating humanity from loving God and each other is sin and brings death.
I was not able to stay until the end of the protest because of a family commitment and being out in humid hot afternoon sun. But I was praying with gratitude for a younger generation that is stepping up.
I will close with one story from a lady helping to lead the protests in our area. This is my paraphrase based on my memory. She said, “My grandmother is 73 and she marched in civil rights protests in the 60s. She has been a constant encourager for me to not hide in silence but to stand up and speak out. And when I organized my first march and protest she insisted on being there. My grandmother’s generation made real strides in improving things for my generation but the journey is not over. The need for change still exists.”