By Franka Potter
In 2013, three African American women founded the Black Lives Matter Foundation Inc., a member-led network with more than 40 chapters in the United States, UK and Canada. Last month, a group of FishHawk residents brought the movement to Eastern Hillsborough with peaceful protests around the area.
Kristin Wilson, a FishHawk resident who has six children, helped organize local protests prompted by the deaths of several African Americans.
“This movement is extremely important, we are all Americans and what hurts black residents also hurts me and this community,” said Wilson.
At the time when protests against police brutality were springing up all over the world, Wilson connected with other residents, including Shariffa Spicer, Rome Johnson, Hannah Webber, Melissa Allen and Nicola Batts, to organize similarly minded local people so their voices could be heard on Juneteenth, an important day for the African American community.
“This event allowed the community to come together and take a stand against racial injustice while celebrating diversity on a very important and meaningful day, Juneteenth,” said Wilson.
Wilson grew up around law enforcement as her father is a retired officer and she has a Marine brother—now a police officer.
She added, “Unfortunately, the justice system is not fair for all, there is much room for improvement.”
When asked how residents could help her cause, Wilson suggested, “stop making excuses for the wrongs we see and know about. Everyone can educate themselves, their children and [others] by listening to people who have not experienced life the same.”
FishHawk couple Anthony and Jennifer Toles, parents of four children, expressed their views on the BLM movement and how residents can help bring our community together.
“My wife and I come from a long history of veterans, but the unique piece to our family is that, even if we had no one we knew who fought, died or became permanently disabled as a result of fighting for this country, we would still support America,” said Anthony. “I was taught and I teach my children: we will love our neighbors.”
“We need to accept all of history to understand the good, the bad and the very ugly truths,” he said. “For my family, my community and my country, on which so many of our families have fought, we want unity, but to get to unity we must listen to the outcry.”
For 2020, #BlackLivesMatter will focus on issues concerning racial injustice, police brutality, LGBTQIA+ and human rights and more. For more information or to get involved, visit blacklivesmatter.com.