Tuesday, June 23, 2015
'NYC Stands with Charleston' on 125th Street
“Black lives they matter here!” was the chant echoed amongst the crowd as New York stood in solidarity with Charleston during a vigil and rally organized by Millions March NYC on Monday, June 22 at 6:00pm.
The event, held at the plaza located on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and 125th Street, remembered the #Charleston9 that were slain on June 17 during a prayer meeting at South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“It’s really important to honor these peoples’ lives in the senseless murder that happened last Wednesday,” said Umara Elliott, Millions March NYC organizer. “I think with the media using things to distract us from this and really focusing the attention so much on Dylann Roof that people don’t even know the names of the nine people that were murdered, who they were, and what they did.”
The shooter claimed the lives of Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Myra Thompson, 59.
“It’s as if we know more about the murderer, the beast, the thug hurting these people, that we don’t know about these nine people,” Elliott added.
The vigil recounted the history of their lives and shared the impact that they had on those around them. Organizers welcomed anyone present to speak publicly about how they were personally affected by the tragedy.
“What we’ve been seeing over the last few months is that these vicious, race-related hate crimes have been happening everywhere,” added Elliott.
The crowd came together in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and unified in casting down the ideals represented by the Confederate flag during the rally. The flag, the removal of which is currently being debated by South Carolina lawmakers, was said to be a symbol of injustice and an emblem of a oppression.
“They want us to go inside, they want us to be quiet, they want us to curl up, they want it to go back to slavery,” said a speaker at the mic. “That’s why they hold up the Confederate flag, that’s why they assert violence.”
“These are the things we need to be working on,” said Feminista Jones, feminist activist, addressing the crowd regarding the killing, race, policy, social issues and community building. “Find the candidates that are saying ‘black lives matter’ and support them.”
The rally closed with a circle formation reciting the words of Assata Shakur:
"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."