A peaceful protest/vigil was held on the Plympton town green on Sunday, June 14 to protest racial injustice. Organizer Amy Laura Cahn described it as “a vigil for George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, Tony Mcdade, and all Black Americans slain by racial violence and injustice, including police brutality and the pandemic.”
A large crowd gathered to listen to speakers, set intentions, and hold signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” amongst other things. Those gathered also participated in an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence signifying the length of time Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck. Participants had the opportunity to write their intentions for combatting racism on sticky notes which were compiled and read aloud by Cahn before the close of the vigil. Those intentions included sentiments such as meeting regularly as a town to battle racism and committing to raising their kids to be anti-racist.
Plympton resident Kimberly Russo addressed the assembled urging them to read, listen, think, and act. An excerpt of her comments is found below:
“When we pray for racial equality, when we know that in our personal lives, we don’t hold malice or ill will toward any people of color in our day-to-day lives, it’s not enough. When we march and join in with people of color to voice our support for racial equality, it’s not enough. It’s not enough for us to call our policemen and women heroes because of their vocation or the uniforms that they wear instead of the deeds that they do. But, when we do these things and we take these ideas to the voting booth and we care enough to make sure that the people that we put in policymaking positions, no matter their political party, carry out our intent and concern about racism, we’re starting on the right track. Our current national economic policies, our voting policies, and the lack of inclusion of people of color in policy making and planning are the root of systemic racism in this country. Don’t be a party to that. Don’t give your good intentions for a fair and just country away to people who, after receiving your vote, play a part in keeping this nation divided.”
When it was her turn at the microphone, Cahn acknowledged that it was pride month and said that queer Black leaders have been at the forefront of every movement in the United States. In order to recognize that she read an excerpt from poet Saeed Jones’ new poem, Who’s Grief? Our Grief. She quoted Jones, who is both Black and gay, saying, “This upheaval, the protests, the unrest, the uprisings, all of it, it is generations in the making. Black children who were learning multiplication tables when Rodney King was beaten in Los Angeles… are old enough to have children of their own now.”
Cahn also took time to recognize the impact of systemic racism that extends beyond police brutality. “In Massachusetts communities of color bear the brunt of exposures to chemical pollution and transportation emissions,” Cahn said. She also pointed out that 8 out of the 10 communities in Massachusetts with the highest rates of COVID-19 are communities of color. “This is not an accident. This is a history (generations) of taking resources from Black communities, from communities of color, and putting it into wealthier and whiter communities.” She also went on to quote Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley who said during a recent interview, “I would very much like to pass onto my 11-year-old daughter, something other than generational trauma.”
Class of 2013 Silver Lake alumna Makayla Dillingham took an opportunity to speak after all scheduled speakers were through. Dillingham urged those gathered to attend a peaceful protest march on Saturday, June 20. The event will begin and end at the Kingston Town Hall and will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. “I see that there are roughly 100 people here today and I want to see you guys plus another hundred, plus another hundred,” Dillingham said. Dillingham said that she extended the invite to neighboring communities outside of the Silver Lake district including Duxbury and Plymouth. “I want to see us all there. I want our towns and I want the South Shore to know that this is a community that’s going to stand together during a trying time,” she explained.