But COVID-19 wasn’t the only virus attacking Americans during this time. The May 25th murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis forced a long-overdue reckoning with how white Americans have tolerated – and benefitted from – racist system that deny black Americans their very humanity.
Marches, demonstrations, and peaceful protests sprang up in communities across Beaver County, with young people leading the way. From Aliquippa to Beaver Falls to Ambridge, Rochester, Midland, and Beaver, neighbors – helpers, heroes – from all walks of life joined together to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Antwon Rose, and every precious black life ended by racism and police brutality.
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” – Mr. Rogers
Tracia Bratton, who helped organize the peaceful and prayerful demonstrations in Ambridge hopes their visibility “provokes people to think about right and wrong.” Through tears, she says, “My children’s skin is viewed as a weapon, as a threat, and it’s not right.”
“If all lives mattered, we wouldn’t be here today,” Andrea Marsick Smith, says, standing by the Rochester roundabout holding a sign that reads “You can’t love God and hate his creations.” She was joined by nearly two dozen others and Mayor Keith Jackson, who believes that change will come if people continue to stand together against injustice.
At every gathering, speakers urged us all to listen with open minds and open hearts, to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter by supporting black-owned businesses, speaking up whenever and wherever we see racism and hate, and voting – honoring our ancestors who fought and died to give us that right.
“What will you do differently after today?” Victoria Smith asked the crowd of nearly 500 gathered in Beaver Falls on Saturday, June 6th. “If you don’t vote, then you are not in this fight.” Register by October 19th to vote in the next election. If you will be 18 by Election Day, you can vote!