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I'm addressing Mr. Wes Mills, Chair, Rappahannock County School Board, and his comments regarding the Black Lives Matter Rally for Peace and Justice.
His comments about the rally are inaccurate to call it a ‘political’ event. All of the promotional materials, the flyer, the press release, the news stories, all stated, ‘NO Political signage’ including buttons, campaign materials, or petitions, etc.
All the speakers were instructed NOT to make political statements. There were no donations taken for any political candidates. Everyone adhered to the guidelines. So, your statement, Mr. Mills, that this was ‘political’ is inaccurate.
There's no Black Lives Matter political party. To clarify, this was a First Amendment, free speech, free assembly rally focused on human rights and civil rights protesting the injustices against Black men and women in the United States for 400 years.
Why you may ask, did the rally encourage voter registration? To do just that, encourage people to vote, to exercise their rights as citizens; but, not to tell you WHO to vote for. Marching and protesting, then not voting, is pointless.
Voter registration has been a struggle since before the Reconstruction era began at the end of the Civil War and continues today. So, this is not new.
While I'm encouraged that you, Mr. Mills can state, ‘Black lives matter,’ but not support the BLM organization, actually, we’re on the same page. I don't agree with some things on the BLM platform, and I also don't agree with a lot of things on the Republican and Democratic platforms.
However, to chastise school board member Bynum for her participation at the Rappahannock rally was uncalled for and shows a lack of understanding, I believe, caused by rumor rather than facts. I was invited to organize an event in Rappahannock by a current elected official; and just so you know, it was not either of the two officials that attended the rally.
Ms. Bynum, like all the other speakers and attendees, exercised her free speech rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which presented a good opportunity for all citizens in understanding their constitutional rights.
Questions to seriously address: Do all of the students in Rappahannock County Public Schools matter? Do all the children deserve a fair share in everything the school system has to offer? And shouldn’t they be taught tools to interact with and appreciate others unlike themselves?
All I’m saying here is Black lives matter. Never said, ONLY Black lives matter. Yes, all lives matter. Just need you to focus on the injustices, oppression and suppression endured by Black people since the first Africans set foot on this continent in 1619 that continues today.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.’ In other words, if one doesn’t speak out for Black lives now, what other lives may be endangered in the future?
Mr. Mills, officials such as yourself, need to support and welcome open dialogue as a valuable tool moving forward. Black Lives Matter. This is a movement, not just a moment. Around the world, across the nation, and yes, in Rappahannock County too.
— The writer was born and raised in Rappahannock County and attended schools here. She writes today in “memory of my mother, Dorothy C. Butler, a long time educator in Rappahannock County, with a total of 37 1/2 years service, and the first African American to serve on the Rappahannock County School Board as an appointee; and a dear friend and colleague, Mr. E. Franklin Warner, the first elected African American to serve on the Rappahannock County School Board. And two civil rights giants who passed last week, Rev. C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis, who fought tirelessly for human, equal and civil rights for all.”
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