Two Groups Become One to Invoke Change

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The nation is still coping with the tragic shootings of the past couple of weeks.  Many people are wondering where to turn, or what they can do to make a difference.  

“I think in a predominantly white state, it’s easy to opt out of these conversations and think it’s just for people of color to be worrying about,” says Kelly Walsh, a volunteer with Central Vermont Showing Up for Racial Justice.  “Whenever we do that, we’re disenfranchising that group further.”

Various ages, races, and genders united at Unitarian Church of Montpelier Thursday to learn how they can invoke change.

“Just in Vermont, one in 100 people are African American, but 10 in 100 are incarcerated,” says Co-Founder of Vermont non-profit group Justice for All.

Following deadly shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, Justice for All and Black Lives Matter VT announced a partnership leaders hope will highlight their long-time connection and provide an outlet for others.

“We’re looking for ways to support one another, to provide support to the community, and we understand that with our collective strength we have a further reach and we’ll have a louder voice,” says Hughes.  He and Black Lives Matter VT leader Ebony Nyoni are close friends.

Hughes reminds people this initiative is far from just beginning.  He says his organization has been working with state and local law enforcement, as well as the state’s attorney’s office to ensure equal rights is the status quo in Vermont.

“The way to work with institutionalized racism is to speak to power and to work with authorities,” says Hughes.

Those attending Thursday’s meeting were refreshed by the diversity is attracted.

“Even though I’m in an interracial relationship, this is still very new to see people getting together to support the minority groups that are here,” says Tonja Shingu of Montpelier.

“Hopefully, coming here will help us to make change and make the world a better place for every one of us,” says Antoine Shingu of Montpelier.

The gathering offered people a chance to participate in a phone bank, voicing concerns to local legislators.  People could make signs, plan vigils, and organize marches as well.  Hughes says future activities are planning for July 28 and August 4 in Chittenden County.

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