“Change doesn’t happen overnight,” said Michael Baker, one of the organizers of the protest. “But the more we fight and continue and not give up, they will get tired of us at some point and actually make a change.”

The purpose of the series of protests in downtown Columbia is to draw people’s attention and get more people involved, according to the event’s Facebook page.

“What your parents and grandparents did or didn’t do set the foundation for your upbringing, set the foundation for your values, for your rights and opportunities. So what they did does affect you,” said Juwan Mahaney, who spoke before the march began. “It’s our responsibility to carry that on. It’s on all of us to keep on this fight.”

Mahaney said racism exists in every aspect of society — in the economy, in education and in the health care system. He advocated for everyone to stand up and fight for something better.

Changes come from economic pressure and legislation, Mahaney said. People all need to step forward to support Black businesses, support young black entrepreneurs and education as a whole.

Sunday’s demonstration began with people singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black national anthem, and several speakers who shared their opinions and experiences.

Later, demonstrators marched down Broadway and Providence Road, through Douglass Park and finally back on Broadway, where they knelt for 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the same amount of time a white officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck.

In the 90-degree heat, groups of people volunteered to supply cold water during the march.

Benjamin Falby, who helped supply water, said it’s his second time participating in a protest. The last one was when Michael Brown was killed in 2014.

Falby said there have not been enough changes since 2014. He wants to help bring awareness for racial equality by working and living with diverse people or helping from a political standpoint.

The awareness of racial inequality exists in Black communities, but it’s not commonplace. One of the main goals of the Black Lives Matter movement is to get a conversation going on, Mahaney said.

He was aware of racial inequality when he was in middle school, and he wished to inspire more people to educate themselves.

“My biggest thing, for me, personally, is the education aspect and really get into being able to have a conversation with anyone about any topic when it comes to Black Lives Matter equality,” Mahaney said.

Before the movement, some people hadn’t realized the level of injustice faced by Black Americans.

“I grew up with white privilege. I didn’t have to protect my right to live or my safety,” said Monica Everett, a participant at the protest. “And I didn’t see it and didn’t know it for two decades before I was aware.”

She said she was there to support her community members who don’t grow up with privilege. She wishes some of the money funded to the police could be used on other things that she believes actually help people.

“I’ll keep fighting until we have services that actually serve people, until justice is actually served, until it’s safe to be a Black person driving a car,” Everett said. “I don’t want to have to be fighting for this for my whole life, but I think I might be.”

  • General reporter, summer 2020 Studying data journalism Reach me at jlx4y@mail.missouri.edu

  • Assistant City Editor. I am a senior studying data journalism. Contact me at kaleighfeldkamp@mail.missouri.edu, or 574-850-0257.

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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