Protesting & Prayer: Brazos Valley Community comes together for george floyd and more
In the early evening hours of May 31, 2020, a group of residents started forming in downtown Bryan at the intersection of Texas Avenue and West 29th Street, in front of city hall and across from police headquarters, for Protesting & Pray in reaction to the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd’s death, caught on videotape, shocked the nation, triggering outrage and unrest across the country, many of which turned into chaotic and violent riots, rage and fury boiling over and exploding in the streets. However, what transpired in Bryan was far from divisive and dangerous. In fact, it was the exact opposite. What occurred was a powerfully peaceful display of a community finding positive purpose in challenging times, finding a common goal to unify them.
Instead of acrimony and anger, those in attendance focused on honoring and remembering the life of George Floyd, seeking to bring about justice and change. They represented a wide array of diversity, but what was truly amazing was that what previously had divided them didn’t matter anymore, not race, religion, age, political affiliation, etc. Time and time again, they embraced one another in kindness and solidarity, finding and forming common and strong bonds in humanity.
There were several powerful moments to be witnessed. The chants of “George Floyd Mattered!”, “Black Lives Matter!”, “Silence is Violence!”, “We’re All Together!”, “I can’t Breathe!”, “Hand Up, Don’t Shoot!”, “No Justice, No Peace!” “Breonna Taylor Mattered!”, and “Love Matters!” thundered from the crowd in unison. Despite social distancing being overwhelming practiced, that didn’t stop from hearts connecting, the positive energy among participants strong as they greeted one another with heartfelt sincerity and encouragement. Bottled water, snacks, face masks, hand sanitizer, and sun screen were provided free of charge for anyone who needed them. The crowd swelled from just a few at the beginning to numbers in the hundreds lining both sides of Texas Avenue, stretching for several blocks in both directions, all united. Spontaneous prayers were said off and on during the course of the evening. One of George Floyd’s sons, who it turns out lives in Bryan, was present, grateful for the turnout, and stressing that his father’s death shouldn’t be used as an excuse for violence. There were signs and posters in both English and Spanish. Several people of Caucasian descent acknowledged that they were aware of what they said was their white privilege, and wanted to use it to stand with and for George Floyd and other victims of racism and police brutality. When a fire truck full of first responders came through the intersection of Texas Avenue and West 29th Street, the event attendees applauded and saluted them. The numerous vehicles blowing horns and shouting support as they passed by. The mother, overcome with emotion, tears running down her face, saying she feared for the safety of her own young black sons, and then being comforted and reassured by those around her. People expressing and showing compassion, empathy, understanding, and honesty with one another, breaking down barriers and bridging gaps. Towards the end of the evening, as the powerful energy of the crowd built to a crescendo, a number of participants taking to the middle of Texas Avenue and marching back and forth in the turning lane, not to disrupt traffic, but to bring further attention to why they had assembled in the first place, George Floyd and social justice.
Dr. Martin Luther King once famously said that he dreamed of when his then four little children would one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, and also that the time is always right to do the right thing. Both those statements came gloriously true at Protesting & Pray, where people embraced one another without prejudice, their character being of openness and solidarity, and realizing that when justice is denied to one, it is denied to all. In forming a coalition for change along the lines of basic and decent humanity, they were able to show that there is strength to be found in uplifting each other, that nothing should separate us, and that when coming together for a greater good, we all rise.
What was achieved on Sunday evening is something this community should be proud of, a model for the rest of America and the world in how to respond to the unrest and conflicts in which we find ourselves. It went off without incident from participants, no need for law enforcement to intercede, no acrimony. Through peaceful respectful assembly of cooler minds, attitudes, and mindsets of seeking solutions on how to move forward, residents found the best in one another, bringing it to the forefront. It was an amazing event to witness and be part of, and I pray and hope that all the positive energy, motivation, inspiration, and, most importantly, love, will continue to flow forth among those who were there, and be more contagious that hate, division, and fear, not just in this community, but all throughout his country and around the globe. The enemy we should be fighting is hate, not one another. When history is written and remembered, what the Brazos Valley showed will be judged to be on the right side. Let us not forget George Floyd and how our neighbors responded in kind.
Source: Brazos Reporter