GRAND JUNCTION, CO – Bad weather postponed the event, which had been scheduled to happen on Saturday afternoon, but Sunday dawned bright, sunny, if whipped by wind, drawing hundreds, perhaps over a thousand residents to the grounds of Sherwood Park to begin the march and teach-in.
The march, organized by local Black students and professionals, began at the Park, continued down North Avenue and ended on the grounds of Colorado Mesa University, under the shade of giant trees along 12th Street. The teach-in began with a brief history of racism in the Grand Valley, from the period in the 1800s when the US government seized most of the Ute tribe lands, through the early 20th century, when the publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel applied for, and received approval to form a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. An impassioned speech by local activist Shannon Robinson followed, including the unequivocal assertion that the hard work to dismantle racism needs to include the efforts of white allies.
David Hood, another local activist, gave a quick tutorial based on the ACLU’s Know Your Rights campaign, outlining every individual’s rights enshrined in the Constitution of free speech, free assembly, freedom from search and seizure without a warrant, freedom from unlawful arrest and detention, and one’s Miranda rights.
The teach-in concluded with a call from local resident Jay Bishop asking attendees to stay in the movement, continue the work, and be committed for the long haul.
Janai Woods, a biology major at CMU from Denver who has lived in the area for five years, attended the event with her friends to support not only the cause but the organizers behind it, all of whom are personal friends.
“We believe in right and wrong. We’ve been seeing a lot of wrong lately, and we just wanted to get what’s right out there. There’s probably a lot of people out here that don’t have the courage to come out here. Myself and my peers are here to voice that for not only ourselves but also for the people who aren’t able to be here with us.”
When asked if these protests and the area events have given her hope, she said, “Absolutely. We started with a small group of folks, and now it’s grown tremendously. It gave me a lot of hope. It shows you that a lot of people also believe in the right thing to do, and it’s just dope to see a lot of people come out and support what we’re trying to do for the community, currently and for the future.”
Photos by Brian Lochlaer.