The Protest in My Sleepy Town.
There was a Black Lives Matter protest/rally in my sleepy New England town last week. It took place in the town square on the steps of our local library. It was scheduled to only last one hour, and it stuck to that schedule. There was a modest police presence, and there were no incidents to speak of. When I heard it was happening, I planned to attend and to bring my son with me. I thought it would be a modest affair.
I was stunned by the turnout.
Granted, it was a stunning turnout for a sleepy New England town that is somehow forty minutes away from everywhere. We may not have had people clogging the streets with spectacular helicopter views of the crowd, but there were several hundred people in the town square where I had thought there would be under fifty. There were signs, heartfelt chants, and volunteers giving away hand sanitizer and masks. Everyone in the crowd wore a mask and kept six feet away from everyone else. I’m proud to have attended, proud to have brought my son to see it, and proud of my town.
There was an impromptu speaker who really moved me. He was a muscular black gentleman who said he’d only become aware of the protest because he passed it on his way to a workout. He, like me, had moved out here after living in a predominantly liberal area of Boston, and didn’t expect to ever see anything like this out in the suburbs. He shouted, with pride and his voice shaking with joyous emotion, “I never thought this town would do something like this for us!”
And it was in that moment that I realized the importance of these smaller shows of support, compassion, and unity. We may not have made the news last week, but we touched some hearts and made our voices heard.
I was very nervous about the continued threat of Covid-19, but something I saw on Twitter made me feel better about taking that risk. I’m paraphrasing, but the post said something like, “If I do end up catching Covid from all this, at least it’s because I was out there voicing my outrage and trying to change the world for the better… instead of because I wanted to eat at Olive Garden.”