Rally for Juneteenth: education and communication in the Charleston community

The Army of Change rally was held in Charleston Friday evening to celebrate Juneteenth and...
The Army of Change rally was held in Charleston Friday evening to celebrate Juneteenth and educate the community on Black history.(Tori Yorgey | WSAZ)
Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 10:39 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Friday marked the 155th anniversary of when the last group of slaves was freed in Texas, marking the holiday Juneteenth. So, on Friday people in Charleston rallied in celebration of the holiday, as well as in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“In light of everything going on the past few months, we just thought it was really important to catch the wave while it’s here,” said Jasmyne Gray, an event organizer.

Gray, along with other event organizers, worked to help continue the movement at Magic Island on Friday. She said the goal of the event was to not only celebrate and honor Juneteenth but also educate people on Black history as a whole and establish better communication between the community and police.

“Black history extends past Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks we need to embrace all of this history and it’s not just for black people we want white, black, brown, yellow whatever you are to just come out and learn apart our history which is also apart of American history.”

The Charleston Police Department, Fire Department, Mayor Amy Goodwin and other city leaders were at the event. Charleston Police went around speaking with people at the event to try and open that line of communication.

“We get out here, get a little face-to-face (action),” said Chief James Hunt. “We were wearing name tags, let people call me by my first name and begin to develop the relationships that are needed to make us that cohesive community that stays strong.”

Gray said having the community and police gather and communicate with one another is a key factor in making change happen.

“That way in a month or two we can have a softball or basketball game with the community and cops,” Gray told WSAZ. “And they can drive down the street and be on a first name basis and it doesn’t have to be a hostile environment.”

Many people attended the event, some holding signs, others wearing shirts but all with the same message.

“I am sixteen and everyday I have to worry that what my mom or my brother is going to walk out and they’ll never walk back in. Or same with me, when I’m hanging out with my friends, is it going to be the last time I see my friends,” said Alvyana Robinson.

Event organizers also helped facilitate conversations at the event to ensure people were open with each other and everyone understood their similarities and differences.

“We don’t have to tackle everything right now but just getting them to build some type of relationship,” Gray said.

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