Well over 400 people converged on India Point Park for the March for Racial Justice (M4RJ). Sister marches were held across the country. In Providence, the “march” was actually more of a rally. All of the speakers were people of color and all spoke passionately and provocatively about growing movement for racial justice and the counter movement underway in the form of white supremacist “Blue Lives Matter” legislation and the creeping threat fascism and Nazism.
The date of the march was originally Saturday, but was moved to Sunday out of respect for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The date for the march was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre in Elaine, Arkansas:
The Massacre was part of a series of massacres and lynchings during the Red Summer of 1919. Black soldiers returning from fighting in WWI, would no longer tolerate the inhumane treatment, racism and terrorism that greeted their return to the US. They resisted this treatment and demanded their Constitutional and human rights be honored and upheld by their country. They were met by murderous white mobs, many of whom were sanctioned by a white supremacists state. These brave Americans fought, against all odds, for the protection of their families, communities and liberty. Their deaths and imprisonment highlighted the foundation of white supremacy in our justice system. As not one person from the white lynching mobs was ever imprisoned for committing these criminal acts.
Ron Lewis and Justice Gaines served as emcees for the event. Both are poets of great talent and between speakers Lewis led the crowd in call and responses and Gaines presented some poetry.
Randy Noka of the Narragansett Tribe opened the rally with a blessing.
Marco McWilliams of the Black Studies Academy of Rhode Island.
Seneca Pender and Niko Merritt of the Sankofa Community Connection.
John Prince of DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality) Behind the Walls.
Tatiana Jones of Project Weber/Renew
Ron Lewis with their first call-and-response litany.
Vanessa Flores-Maldonaldo from the Community Safety Act (CSA) Campaign and PrYSM (Providence Youth Student Movement).
Stephen Dy and Daniel Chhum from the Community Defense Project at PrYSM.
Cata Lorenzo and Arely Diaz from AMOR.
Malchus Mills of DARE talking about the rent control initiative.
Ron Lewis with the second litany.
Principal Celeste Terry-Lo of Times Squared Academy talking about the racial equity gap in education.
Providence City Councilor Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3)
Rhode Island State Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence)
David Veliz from No LNG in PVD and the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island.
Ron Lewis with the third litany.
Yojaida Heredia talked about youth activism and getting involved in the effort here in Rhode Island.
Justice Gaines delivers some poetry.