Sunday Marks A Month Of Protests In Columbia | KBIA

Sunday Marks A Month Of Protests In Columbia

Jun 29, 2020

Sunday's protest at Boone County Courthouse marked a month of continuing Black Lives Matter marches in Columbia, spurred by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

"Change doesn't happen overnight," said Michael Baker, one of the organizers of the protest. "But the more we fight and continue and not give up, they will get tired of us at some point and actually make a change."

The purpose of the series of protests in downtown Columbia is to draw people's attention and get more people involved, according to the event's page on Facebook.

"What your parents and grandparents did or didn't do set the foundation for your upbringing, set the foundation for your values, for your rights and opportunities. So what they did does affect you," said Juwan Mahaney, who spoke before the march began. "It's our responsibility to carry that on. It's on all of us to keep on this fight."

Mahaney said racism exists in every aspect of society — in the economy, in education and in the health care system. He advocated for everyone to stand up and fight for something better.

Changes come from economic pressure and legislation, Mahaney said. People all need to step forward to support black business, support young Black entrepreneurs and education as a whole.

Sunday's demonstration began with people singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Black national anthem, and several speakers who shared their opinions and experiences.

Later, demonstrators marched down Broadway and Providence Road, through Douglass Park and finally back on Broadway, where they knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the same amount of time a white officer put his knee on George Floyd's neck.

In the 90-degree temperature, groups of people volunteered to supply cold water during the march.

Benjamin Falby, who helped supply water, said it's his second time participating in a protest. The last one was when Michael Brown was killed in 2015. Falby said there have not been enough changes since 2015. He wants to help bring awareness for racial equality by working and living with diverse people or helping from a political standpoint.

The awareness of racial inequality exists in black communities, but it's not commonplace. One of the main goals of the Black Lives Matter movement is to get a conversation going on, Mahaney said.

He was aware of racial inequality when he was in middle school, and he wished to inspire more people to educate themselves.

"My biggest thing, for me, personally is the education aspect and really get into being able to have a conversation with anyone about any topic when it comes to Black Lives Matter equality," Mahaney said.

Before the movement, some people hadn't realized the injustice faced by Black Americans.

"I grew up with white privilege. I didn't have to protect my right to live or my safety. And I didn't see it and didn't know it for two decades before I was aware," said Monica Everett, a participant at the protest.

She said she was there to support her community members who don't grow up with privilege. She wishes some of the money funded to the police could be used on other things that she believes actually help people.

"I'll keep fighting until we have services that actually serve people, until justice is actually served, until it's safe to be a Black person driving a car," Everett said. "I don't want to have to be fighting for this for my whole life, but I think I might be."