NORTH EAST — Saturday, those in Cecil Solidarity silently marched through downtown North East in honor of the Black men, women and children that have been killed after an encounter with police.
From North East Community Park, up Main Street and over to the North East Library on Cecil Avenue, they marched silently — signs in tow. Once in the shared parking lot of the police station, 150 demonstrators held signs as the names of Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, George Floyd, Anthony Hill, Trayvon Martin and 245 others were read by Rising Sun Middle School teacher Erinn Chioma over the megaphone. With each name called, their memoriam sign rose above the crowd.
Mubrouca Ad-Din, who is with the Juneteenth Association and a resident of New Castle County, Delaware, also honored the names by pouring out water with a blessing.
Others enjoying Saturday in the area stopped to raise a fist in solidarity — the renowned sign of unity and liberation now attached to the Black Lives Matter movement. Those driving by offered honks of love and store owners came to watch the silent parade through town.
Though this isn't the first public display against police brutality, this time around, students led the crowd in spoken word.
"It's their movement, their revolution," Chioma said, introducing Justice Allison, an Odyssey Charter School student, Elkton Middle School student Keiana Giersch and Edgewood High School student Kavon Brown.
Brown, a 10th grader who was "revolutionary" even two years ago, shared his experiences as a young Black teenager. While attending Rising Sun Middle School, and the only person of color in Chioma's classroom, he got behind the Black Lives Matter movement and displayed a sticker on his laptop in school. He was told to remove the sticker or face getting written up — which is school age strike-system punishment.
It was in second grade when someone first called him a n-----, these harassments would continue through high school. He said there wasn't a day that went by in school that comments were made "to break me" he said.
"I'm tired of this," Brown said. "... We’re no longer putting up with this. I am tired of hearing every day that an African American has been killed by a police officer or someone that just hates African Americans.
"Our ancestors worked hard and long for us to be free; it’s like slavery never ended it was just remade," Brown said.
Chioma also spoke on the American right of freedom and equality that the Black community has fought to claim for generations. Things have "festered", she said, but now it's the next generation's turn on the frontlines — as some have called the Black Lives Matter protests the "second Civil Rights Movement."
“We will not let the next generation of African Americans go through this anymore because we are all human," Brown said. "I would like to see justice for all African Americans that have died just because of their color of their skin.
"I would rather die than let one of these twisted people break me," Brown ended his speech.
Giersch, whose energy could be felt from across the North East pavillion, wrote “We Will Fight”:
“They say all lives matter
But at this point, my heart is Shattered.
Why do black lives get treated like Batter?
All lives don't matter,
Until black lives matter.
We don't deserve to get killed,
So yes, we will fight,
Until we have more rights
So, don't tell me not to scream my rights!
We are not going to go down without a fight!
We will shout and march until its right!
We gotta win this fight,
Or it will never be right!
We gotta protest and show that it's not okay for someone with a vest
to press down on our necks!
We should not be laid down to rest
By the people that are supposed to protect
So be your best
And show that we should all be blessed,
With hope in our chest
That we all will be treated like the rest.
SO, STAND UP AND PROTEST!”
Rescheduled twice due to heavy rain, protestors with Cecil Solidarity marched through downtown North East on Saturday as a belated celebration of Juneteenth. June 19, or Juneteenth, is a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. In 1865, on June 19, Union soldiers arrived in Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free — this was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Chioma addressed the protesters on Saturday "as a patriot standing with other good Americans."
"I am making American keep its promise of liberty and justice for all," Chioma said.
She read Langston Hughes poem, "I, Too":
"I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.