A relaxed Black Lives Matter picnic at Lake Sacajawea brought a few dozen people together for volleyball, barbecue and friendly discussion over a drizzly Saturday afternoon.
Organizer Charity Faith Williams, who is Black, said she wanted to bring people together for a friendly, safe gathering to “eat some food and have some laughs.”
“Some of us can’t protest, so we’re finding different ways to spread awareness and bring notice to the mistreatment that black people have experienced in America,” she said. “Even though all this negativity is happening in the world right now, we can still find a way to bring awareness and have a good time.”
Williams, 26, has lived in Longview most of her life. She’s hopeful that next year she can hold a similar event for Juneteenth, without the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Juneteenth, celebrated annually on June 19th, recognizes the day in 1865 when Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with the news that the civil war and slavery had ended. Most U.S. states observe the day ceremonially, and there is a growing movement to have the Juneteenth recognized as a national federal holiday.
Ayron Kox, who lives in the Longview-Kelso area, said he still experiences “remnants of racism.” He came out to support Williams and to raise awareness for “all Black lives,” not only those who have died in highly-publicized police interactions.
“She’s trying to show the community that it’s more than just the rioting and protesting,” Kox said. “Basically, what we want is equality for all people of color.”
Kox is Black, but he considers his race to be “human.”
“I think the biggest thing that Black people want to be is heard,” he said. “We want to be heard. We’ve faced systemic racism for generations.”
Tavis Greenwood, who has “all types of colors” in his family, got back to Longview only a week and a half ago from visiting family in New York. On the way, the family visited Minneapolis, Chicago and Brooklyn to witness the silent marches and protests taking place there. It was a chance to watch history in the making.
Greenwood, 26, said he likes seeing white people getting involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The phrase “doesn’t mean Black lives matter and nobody else matters,” Greenwood said. “It means, we see this going on and we want to help them out.”