GRAND JUNCTION, CO – It would be a grievous mistake to underestimate Shannon Robinson. Her diminutive frame belies the will of steel, borne out of years of activism, behind a calm demeanor. She’s a mother, a guiding light to many budding young activists, CMU alumna, and force of nature.
Robinson, who served as Student Body president at CMU, spent a number of summers here as a child — her grandparents came here in 1956 — and eventually moved here for good in 2003.
She’s seen the area become more diverse as more people of color have moved in over the years, but admits that she doesn’t think much has changed in terms of how inclusive and welcoming the local community has been towards minorities.
Still, the Sunday teach-in and march surprised her and gives her hope. When asks if she thought that the event harbored a sea change, she said, “Absolutely. It’s not just today. On Wednesday we were able to get an invite to go into the City Council for a little pre-meeting to discuss stuff. The young group of Black youth marching [here] were able to talk to the police chief, to the City Council. For the first time ever, we filled the City Council with Black faces, and only Black faces. In these past couple of weeks, we have created history.”
Turnout at the march, estimated at around 800 or so, was clearly more than she and the other organizers and speakers had expected. And she points directly to the tragedy of George Floyd’s death under the indifferent knee of a white Minneapolis police officer as the defining movement that transformed the community.
“The community support is absolutely amazing. I think people are like, ‘We can’t have this anymore.’ And as a mother, [someone] old enough to be some of these kids’ mom, hearing George Floyd cry out for his mother is a cry out for all Black mothers. I’m answering that call. And I’m answering the call for all of my brothers and sisters that we not only lost before that, but continue to lose with the escalated police militarization and activity. We can’t have that.”
Like her counterparts in Denver, Robinson fully supports the proposed SB20-217: The Law Enforcement Integrity Act, which is scheduled for its final Senate vote in the Colorado legislature tomorrow.
“As a group we’re going to try to speak to some state representatives on how needed that bill is, and that while that’s going on in Denver, we are their constituents. They can be in Denver, but we are their voices. We are their voters. We are their taxpayers. This stuff happens to us. We get profiled, our guys get profiled all the time. We’re not having it.”
Although she is committed to being as involved as she’s always been in the local Black Lives Matter movement, she has even bigger dreams, and one in particular that she hopes will serve the constituents nearest to her heart.
“I want to do some healing and some skills building with our young black women and work with them on empowering them and getting their voice out there. Because I think that a lot of times, while we’re doing this, Black women’s voices are kind of set to the side. Not on purpose, but set to the side, and I would like to see these young women be able to get up there and do what I just did.”