The Black Lives Matter movement has found its way to McPherson. This Saturday, there will be a McPherson BLM March at 3 p.m. starting at 1600 E. Euclid Street. The walk will begin outside of Dotzour Hall at McPherson College and head to Lakeside Park.
After the walk, the event will begin with a moment of silence and group prayers for all the black communities who were victims of police brutality and racial injustice.
Organizers say this march is way to recognize the diversity of McPherson while spreading messages of the acts of racism around the country. This event was inspired by five women (Somer Van Pelt, Molly Anderson, Libbie Matthews, Ivonne Janusz, Amanda Cochran and Dani Wilcock) who wanted to take a stand in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Van Pelt, met the other five via Facebook after having the same interest about the same topic. Van Pelt said she hopes the march will open the eyes of the community and help people be more informed about racism.
"We just started off sharing different ideas with some hopes for our community," Van Pelt said. “We wanted to bring McPherson together. One of biggest problems of racism is educating the people who aren't educated."
The event will also have guest speakers, including Mayor Tom Brown. The McPherson Police Department has also agreed to participate in the march. According to the Anderson, while the march was in the works, law enforcement reached out to the organizers in showing their support.
"The police involvement has been entirely voluntary from McPherson Law Enforcement," Anderson said. "They have been extremely helpful and cooperative in helping us create a positive event. Most of us weren’t aware that Mayor Brown would attend our meeting last night. We were planning on meeting with city officials for some logistical details. However, Mayor Brown attended and spoke about a lot of his personal experiences with seeing racism and discrimination throughout his life. Both the mayor’s office and the police department have been very helpful with input and volunteering equipment to make our event ever better."
Anderson, among other people around the country, was outraged of the death of Floyd and believes she needs to do something about it. She reached out to black organizations around the areas to join the march, but there were concerns involving safety of others in an unfamiliar environment.
"While we definitely plan to address his death specifically, there is a much more broad discussion to be had,“ Anderson said. "After many discussions, we decided that this is an important time to show our community that we love and respect them. We want to recognize that black people, even in small-town McPherson, have a different experience than white allies."
Despite the concerns of backlash and negativities revolving around the march, organizers expect this event to be a peaceful protest with uncomfortable questions needed to be answered.
"This event will be for creating an atmosphere for comfortable discussion about that. We will have several members of our community to express their experiences and to reflect on how race affects them,“ Anderson said. ”This can be an uncomfortable conversation, but we feel it’s an extremely important one to be had, especially right now."