Friday events raise social consciousness

Two girls look on as a man speaks into a microphone.
People across generations and cultures listen to speaker MacNeal Lashley (right) deliver his message of understanding and unity at Friday’s Black Lives Matter Rally at Centennial Park. Marks – Photo

Friday’s Black Lives Matter Rally brought young and old together at Grimsby’s Centennial Park.

The rally marked the second “social conscience” event of the day with West Lincoln raising the Pride flag at is town hall for the first time earlier in the day.

A multi-generational gathering held signs, stood in solidarity and listened to speakers all the while sticking to COVID-19 guidelines at the BLM event.

The message from speaker MacNeil Lashley was a simple one: knowledge and experience are the best things to defeat racism.

“Evil is the brother of ignorance,” Lashley said, “And racism is evil. If you walk a mile in my shoes, you’ll maybe see how tight they are on your feet.”

His message also focused on peace and unity.

“I think we should all live together in harmony and find a way forward together,” he said.

“It’s not enough to just have a friend (with different coloured skin), try to build a true connection.”

He suggested a number of ways his listeners could fight racism in a peaceful, effective way, including: correcting ignorance whenever confronted, sticking up for black people and other minorities in situations where they are being pushed down, and making sure one’s own children grow up having friends from another culture or race.

“If you do nothing else, keep in mind one thing: how do I walk a mile in their shoes?” said Lashley.

Among the gathering of about 50 was Grimsby Coun. Lianne Vardy who applauded organizers.

“The guest speaker was quite eloquent, with a humanistic approach to diversity and acceptance of others. Many who gathered there volunteered to share some of their own personal stories dealing with racism,” said Vardy.

The rally’s organizer, Grimsby teen Connor Veerman was choked up while thanking Lashley for speaking.

“I’m very emotionally touched,” said Connor. “I want to thank Mac and everyone else who came out today.”

“There were more people than I thought there would be and I even had messages from people who couldn’t come, but gave their support,” Connor said following the rally.

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