Headed by Black Action Now, VCU students and Richmond residents gathered in Monroe Park Wednesday night for the “They Can’t Kill Us All” protest. The group marched from the park to The Compass, up Harrison Street, and briefly stopped in front of the Siegel Center.
Headed by Black Action Now, VCU students and Richmond residents gathered in Monroe Park Wednesday night for the “They Can’t Kill Us All” protest. The group marched from the park to The Compass, up Harrison Street, and briefly stopped in front of the Siegel Center. There, they staged a die-in, where all that wanted to laid down in the middle of the street for four and a half minutes, symbolizing the four and a half hours that Mike Brown’s body was left lying in the street after his shooting. Afterwards, the group marched down Broad Street, where another four and a half minute period of silence was held in recognition of the suspected 2,000 lives that were lost in the wake of terrorist attacks in Nigeria in recent weeks.
Black Action Now is an activist organization created by a group of black women that focuses mainly on black issues and community engagement. “Very often in our society, we see black issues take a backseat to other significant events that affect other groups,” said Ashleigh Shackelford, a member of Black Action Now. “Even when we discuss specific issues that affect the black community, they tend to focus on black cisgender heterosexual men.” Black Action Now seeks to represent issues that affect all black people and all identity politics.
This event was part of Black Action Now’s #BlackLivesMatter Week Of Action, which was created in response and contribution to the National Day of Action/Reclaim MLK Day. Said Ashliegh Shackelford, “Our goal is to incite change and to continue to let the world know that this isn’t a trend, it’s a movement. We’re out here fighting for the right to exist. We deserve humanity.”
“Black people have fought long and hard to get our humanity and our right to exist freely. And even after 300 plus years, we’re still fighting to dismantle a system that was built to destroy us.” Shackelford said when discussing the hardships that the black community has faced historically and continues to face to this day. “It’s terrifying to think that every black person is one bullet away from a hashtag. But even through the fear, it’s amazing to know that we will still fight. They can’t kill us all. Systemic racism and anti-blackness will not defeat us. We’ll still be fighting 300 years from now if things don’t change. The perseverance of the black community is unshakable.”
This protest continues the trend of actions spearheaded by activist organizations like Black Action Now, which picked up traction this past year after the events in Ferguson. When asked about the ways that allies to the Black Lives Matter movement should contribute to these actions, Shackelford said that they should “listen, step back, and use your privilege to your advantage. We don’t need to hear how your privilege benefits you, we’re already aware of it. We don’t need you to tell us about being oppressed. Tell the people we can’t access. White people should talk to other white people and police them. By white supremacist logic, white people listen and trust other white people. We need you to access them because we can’t. We need you to help us deal with the police because they’re less likely to arrest or harm you for being white. We need you to use your privilege to help us with resources. Don’t speak for us, help us create change by exploiting your privilege for our liberation and humanity.”
The #BlackLivesMatter Week Of Action will continue with a vigil at the John Marshall Courthouse at 3:30 PM on Thursday as a part of the Nation Day Of Action, and Black Action Now will be holding a Black Lives Matter Open Mic on January 31st.