Attending a Local Peaceful Protest

Attending a Local Peaceful Protest

It was June 3. Holliston, my hometown, planned to hold a march at 4 PM that day. I walked alone down Church St, clutching a flimsy poster that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Love first.” A car horn honked. I looked and saw the driver smiling at me; the driver must have guessed the purpose of my poster even though the words were hidden from view.

In a moment, I reached the intersection with Railroad St, and saw a small group of safely masked people beginning to cross. They, too, carried posters, but they held them up high. A girl about the same age as me led the line, and she said, “Just jump right in!” in a very welcoming tone.

I did jump right in, and without looking behind me. I saw about eight people in front of me, and heard the footsteps of a few more behind. I guessed I probably marched with at most twenty people. Well, we small towns do what we can do.

We turned on to Central St, then onto Washington. Now we walked right through Holliston’s downtown. Car horns honked as we passed, and drivers waved and gave the thumbs-up. People who live along Washington St sat in lawn chairs and cheered for us. We walked peacefully, silently; the onlookers who cheered made more noise than our band of poster-holders. We turned again onto Linden St, which would take us to the field behind Holliston’s Middle School. Once in the field, we would have a moment of silence to commemorate George Floyd and all African Americans who have lost their lives because of unacceptable violence rooted in perpetuated racism. It wasn’t until I reached the field that I looked behind me.

I couldn’t believe what I saw. Crowds of far more than twenty people flooded the field. I heard horns honking from Washington St, which meant that the march stretched over one thousand feet from this field back to the main road. And still they came. The same girl who had welcomed me to the march picked up a megaphone and announced that the moment of silence would commence once the entire group arrived. And still, they came.

When 300 or more human beings filled that field — distanced — the girl with the megaphone announced that we would kneel silently for two minutes to commemorate George Floyd and all African Americans who have been killed by prejudice, and to protest against it ever happening again.

We knelt because of the unjust deaths of George Floyd and countless other black people. These deaths reflect unacceptable prejudice. But the kneeling, which reflects the manner in which George Floyd died, was good — it marked a good response to the evil of racism. Everyone knelt in complete silence. Not a single pair of eyes looked at a phone. To see so many people, masked and distanced, it’s true — kneeling in silence signified that 300 or more people offered their whole selves on June 3 at nearly 5 PM behind Holliston Middle School. They offered the best gift they could: their presence.

I went home with my now well-traveled sign that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Love first.” I went home having knelt with a vast crowd of people for two minutes of unbroken silence. But the fight for justice and peace felt far from achieved. I witnessed 300 people silently cry out for justice and peace — all I could think about was how much still has to be done.

Anna Sheehan ’21, Faith Editor