“Some people may ask why we’re here, and we’re here because it's time for the community to get off the sidelines and push for change,” Morgan County youth march organizer Alex Williams said. “Change is what we’re fighting for. We’re fighting for justice, equality and so much more. We are marching today to show we will not turn a blind eye to the injustice of people of color, just like myself. Although this march isn’t the only change that we can do. It’s to start the hopes in our community to help all around the country.”
Williams was among the local students who organized and led a peaceful protest in Madison on Friday, June 19. Youth and adults gathered in Town Park where they heard from multiple students and Madison Mayor Fred Perriman.
Simon Leclair said, “As a white male in a small southern town, I may not directly be affected by intensely embedded racism that plagues the United States, but I have certainly seen it displayed many times especially with the most recent deaths that have been plastered over the news and social media.”
Leclair went on to say he is disgusted by the deaths and actions of those that “support the racist agenda.” Leclair applauded those who came out to march.
“Speaking of Madison, as a whole when was the last time you saw this many people voluntarily come together for a cause? Other than the last march it has been longer than I can remember. That alone shows that we as people have come to a breaking point,” Leclair said.
He called racism “insane” and asked those gathered, “Why does it matter if one person’s skin color is darker than another?” Leclair told the crowd, “We are all the same.” He urged those in attendance to not allow the event to just be another event, to not let the momentum from the march die after it ended at 2 p.m.
“We were here once before to show that Madison will not turn a blind eye to terrible acts done by terrible people, but we are here today to walk these streets to show that Madison will continue to be intolerable to these heinous things,” Leclair said. “We got out of bed today to walk these miles to show that we will not tolerate anything that stands in the way of equality. And with that we want to teach others through our workings that, racism is not the way of the South anymore, and that a new, more equal culture is going to bloom.”
Lipi Desai was next to speak.
“I’m here today to stand with those who have felt racism to the highest extent within this community and to create a town and community that is supportive and cohesive to all races that choose to live here because, as someone who has felt racism in this community, I know the importance of inclusivity,” Desai said. “Throughout my time, I have had to learn about moving forward, about tolerating and I know those in my community and those in the world surrounding me who are black have had to deal with more and continue to deal with more. These truths should disgust your soul and your being that another life is valued less due to the their skin color, a variable that is uncontrollable and moreover should not matter.”
Desai called the peaceful protest just the “tip of the iceberg.” She said the march was to show that “black lives matter” and that they would not “sit back and be silent to the horrors that surround them.” Desai said that by standing together as a community they could “properly communicate these ideals” and that they were contributing their time to a cause that “will continue to prosper until rightful justice is given.”
Mayor Perriman applauded the young people for organizing the march. He used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”
“I am proud to say that I am standing with these young people today because today you are standing for something and you’re not falling for just anything,” Perriman said. “You’re here this afternoon to make a difference for our city, our state, our nation, our country, and you are here this afternoon to make a statement to the city of Madison, Georgia. I believe your statement today is saying to the law enforcement, the local politicians, our businessmen, our educational group and the entire city as a whole, and I believe that your message to us today as you stand to make a difference you are saying, ‘we can’t do it by ourselves,’ but together we stand and divided we fall.”
Perriman said that, “after the march and after the frustration, let’s have a conversation around the table and let’s say together we can get the job done.” He congratulated the young people encouraging them to stick together.
“If this is going to be ‘One Morgan’ and ‘One Morgan’ that we can make a difference we have to do it and we must do it together,” Perriman said. “It’s my prayer that as we walk to Hill Park, as we have our law enforcement walking with us today, we want this city and this community to know that we are walking in peace but this peace is saying to the world and to us here that we can make a difference peacefully and peacefully a difference will be made.”
Following a prayer by student Rogers Clark the march made its way up W. Jefferson St., down Main St. and into Hill Park. The marchers chanted, “No Justice, No Peace.”
Once in Hill Park, the names of black lives lost were read as the marchers took a knee. The event ended with a prayer by a local pastor.
“I’m here today to stand with those who have felt racism to the highest extent within this community and to create a town and community that is supportive and cohesive to all races that choose to live here because, as someone who has felt racism in this community, I know the importance of inclusivity.”
– Lipi Desai