Black Lives Matter march successful in McPherson

Staff Writer
Saturday was the first Black Lives Matter march and rally in McPherson.  A two mile march was followed  by a rally at Lakeside Park.

"No justice, no peace" was among many chants shouted in the McPherson community during its first ever Black Lives Matter march on Saturday afternoon.

Even with a high temperature of 98 degrees, an estimation of 400 people in different age groups all united in McPherson College and walked two miles to Lakeside Park with their signs, making their voices around the community heard while being escorted by the McPherson Police Department.

For Molly Anderson, a McPherson native and one of the head organizers of this march, it was an overall success and she was pleased with the turnout and how peaceful the protest was. She believed the message was finally delivered.

"We tried to make all of this impactful. Personally the size of the crowd during the march just blew me away," Anderson said. "A lot more turned out than we originally expected. I think things went smoothly. A lot of voices has been heard and needed to be heard. That was our entire goal for that."

As all the protesters met up at Lakeside, the rally began with a moment of silence which lasted eight minutes and four seconds. That exact time was dedicated to the death of George Floyd, who was killed by former officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"We've been planning the moments of silence and I think we felt it would affect people to see how long eight minutes and four seconds is," Anderson said.

After an opening prayer by fellow preacher, Jerry Bowen of the Church of Bretheren, the guest speakers took the floor. Earnest Frazier was among one of those speakers whose message may have stood out after he opened up. He claimed McPherson has his home after living in the community for more than 40 years.

"He was so fired up and was a great speaker," Anderson said. "Everybody loves Earnie. None of us reached out to Earnie directly. We posted technically about our second meeting, to plan, and there he was.” Anderson said. "We talked quite a bit that night.

Mayor Tom Brown took the stage in the end as he talked about his life experiences. Growing up in the streets of Youngstown, Ohio where he interacted with the blacks and hispanics, Brown knew what needed to be done. His speech focused on a orm of solidarity. something he wanted pass to the people of McPherson.

"Our whole mission of what we do as a city staff and the police department is to communicate and communicate," Brown said during his speech. "Somebody said that we don't see black or white. You do see black or white, but it's how you relate to that. If you don't see color, then something is wrong with you."

The protest may have ended in two and half hours, but for Anderson, it is only the beginning as she hopes to start more rallies and continue on to educate the community about racism and black Lives Matter.

“The message for the day was a demand of change and process," Anderson said. "I think today got the dialogue open. It got the conversation started and it is an important step, especially McPherson. Because we know what we personally feel a lot of it has discussed. So getting that conversation started that everyone went home tonight and rethinking about this. Hopefully for quite a while. We don't plan on stopping here. The cause for justice does not end until justice achieved."

Several hundred people participated in a Black Lives Matter march and rally on Saturday in McPherson.