On Saturday, Aug. 29 a brother and sister from St. Louis drove to Gerald to talk about racism. They called it a Desegregation/Integration Rally. Despite death threats on Facebook they came.
This was their sixth rally in Franklin County. They chose Franklin County because they grew up in the Union, Pacific and St. Clair communities.
Alexandria Gray and her brother Anthony Collins are not professional speakers. They are not politicians. This was obvious to anyone who attended the rally. They seemed to be honest everyday people.
Why did they leave their homes to spend a Saturday afternoon in Gerald?
They came because they believed in their message of ending racism.
Before the rally, I took a couple calls from readers concerned about their safety. Despite the agenda being promoted in the newspaper and on Facebook, some thought there was going to be a protest march and that Highway 50 would be closed down.
Some were genuinely concerned that monuments would be defaced, statues torn down and property vandalized.
Can you blame them? Rioting and looting have been happening in large cities all across the country for months. Many of these riots came on the heels of anti-racism protests.
Left untethered, it’s only a matter of time until the violence spreads to the rural areas where we live.
Since Gray and Collins’ Desegregation/Integration Rally, vandals defaced Elvis Presley’s Graceland by spray-painting ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘Defund the Police’ and ‘Abolish ICE’ on a wall surrounding the King’s Tennessee mansion resulting in close to $150,000 in damages.
My advice, leave the Black Lives Matter flag home. Certainly, they had a right to display it. But that flag kept many in the audience from listening to their message. It was a distraction. It was a lightning rod. That was a shame. Without it I believe more progress could have been achieved.
It would be like going to the hood with a Confederate battle flag and expecting an all-black audience to listen to the speaker. I doubt such a speaker would get very far.
Black lives matter IS a statement of fact, but the leaders and the organization behind that statement are using it to hide their political agenda.
In the Gerald rally, they spoke of their family. Do they realize that BLM is against the “Western-prescribed nuclear-family-structure.”
Do they know that BLM leaders are proclaimed Marxists whose goal is to destroy America and transform it completely?
Other goals of the organization are to get rid of the police, remove borders, and abolish prisons.
Gray and Collins, as well as other supporters of the movement, need to understand what BLM wants for our country. Many in the Gerald crowd did.
In the Gerald audience, there were agitators — some from outside the area — and those who used insulting, foul language that was embarrassing to many in attendance, no matter what your political beliefs.
On the other end Gray, herself used several F-bombs under her breath during the exchange — which she apologized for on Facebook. In that same Facebook post, she said she was talking to “bigots, racists, fascists, and ignorant people.”
If you are looking for a “change of heart” you first need to look inside your heart and understand who you are speaking to. We are all God’s children.
No one in the audience said black lives don’t matter.
Many of us want the same thing, peace and justice. More than one of the speakers from the audience — you refer to as bigots and racists — invited you to come to live in our communities.
Our towns have people of color living here. Certainly not a lot, but without doubt more than when I was a kid. They are not being run out of town. Many are hardworking members of our towns.
In the future, when you run out of parks to speak at, you may try taking your message to local country churches. You could speak to members of a congregation and afterward share a meal. Nothing brings people together with different ideologies better than good food.
One last thought. I admire you for your courage. I don’t think I would be brave enough to do what you are doing. Good luck and God Bless.