Updated: Jun 17, 2020
More than 1,000 Evanston residents gathered at Fountain Square and spilled out into the surrounding streets last Sunday afternoon for a rally against police brutality and to support Black lives in the wake of George Floyd's murder by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25.
The event was emceed by Michael Nabors, president, and sponsored by the NAACP, Chessmen Club of the North Shore, Inc., Black Evanston Men, Kappa Alpha Psi/Evanston chapter, and the music group S.O.U.L Creations.
Hear their words. Read their words. Take action.
In order, the speakers were:
Keith D. Terry
Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste
Ayinde Jean Baptiste
Find a bio of each speaker following the transcripts.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors
To all of you we say good afternoon. We are grateful for your presence in this place.
We are here and here we are likely to be.
There is someone who called me yesterday and they said, 'Dr. Nabors, how many more rallies are you going to have in Evanston?' My response was, 'I don’t know, but we’re going to have as many as are necessary.'
The kind of change that is occurring now happens once in a lifetime. We are not just protesting in the United States of America, but protests are being held all around the world. In countries that are interested in freedom and justice and putting an end to racism. We are grateful for what is happening in England, in Switzerland, in Australia, in New Zealand, in Ghana and Kenya and Zimbabwe and so many more. In those different parts of the world, people are coming together and they are saying it is enough. Racism not only has to end, but it has to be killed. It has to be buried so that it will never rise again.
That’s why we are here today.
We are grateful for your presence ... And I want you to look around and see the number of people of color who are here in Fountain Square representing the very best in humanity. Representing the very best in Evanston, Illinois. Thank you so much.
... We have great challenges that are happening in Evanston, not the least of which so many people of color are being forced to move out because they cannot afford the property taxes. They cannot afford the homes. But we’re going to put a stop to that. We’re going to make sure that this town is not just diverse in the way we talk, but we’re diverse in the way we live.
We are grateful. Some people have asked what can we do, how can we show support? There are so many ways. If you look at some of the poles that are listed here in Fountain Square there are signs on those poles that have the names of black organizations and businesses that need your support. They’ve been hit doubly hard by two viruses. One of them is called Covid-19 and the other is called racism 400 years.
We want you to be supportive of these organizations, many of them already have Go Fund Me pages. C&W Market Ice Cream Parlor, Yo Fresh Café of Evanston, Jennifer’s Edibles, Good to Go Jamaica Cuisine, Ebony Barber Shop, Eye Candy Hair Studio, Church Street Barber Shop, the Magic Shop Hair Salon, the Executive Studio.
If you don’t get your hair done at one of these places, they will gladly accept a donation.
... We are here to support the families of those who have been killed. The families of George Floyd, of our Ahmaud Arbery and of Breonna Taylor and the countless others who have been killed over the last 400 years.
Dr. Gilo Kwesi Cornell Logan
To all of you who are sick and tired of being sick and tired, please make some noise. Let me hear you. Let me hear you.
We are here to be heard and not to be silenced. It’s been too long. How long? Too long.
Eric Garner, Michael Stewart, LaQuan McDonald, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Betty Jones, Travon Martin, Janet Wilson, Jermaine Reid, Philando Castille, Bothem Jean, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd.
It’s been how long? Too long.
From 1619 to today, 401 years of red, white, and blue: redlining, white supremacy, and blue walls. We need to change this.
It’s a multi-generational and seemingly hereditary trauma that we are experiencing in our community. The founding of the US was on thievery of land, on genocide, and on slavery. Let’s not be mistaken about that. That cannot be denied. And hence we must not only change people’s minds and hearts, but we must change systems. We must change structures and we must change the dominant ideology. Too many of us are stuck. Either we’re ignorant, we’re insecure, we’re confused, we’re oblivious, we’re fearful, or any combination of that.
But today we need to make a change. We are in a crisis. We have been in a crisis, a 401-year crisis. Covid-19 crisis, climate crisis, race crisis, opportunity-gap crisis, class crisis. We have an election coming up in November crisis. And we all have a choice to make.
Look at our white brothers and sisters out here. Look at our Latinx brothers and sisters out here. Look at our Asian brothers and sisters out here. Look at our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters out here. We are all here together. We thank you. We appreciate you. We see you, we feel you, and we need you all.
This is happening across the country; it’s happening in rural America. It’s happening in small towns. That’s how we know this is different this time. We are not going to go back. We are going forward. It’s happening in Ghana, in Amsterdam, in Australia. Our brothers and sisters in New Zealand - the Maori! They say Kia Kaha - stand strong, be firm in the struggle that we are fighting here today. We have a global community that has our backs. It’s happening organically. From the grassroots up is where the plant grows. That’s where the struggle begins, not from the top.
We are in great need y’all. We need prayer, but we cannot simply pray this away. We need votes, we need to vote, but we cannot merely vote this away.
We need police reform. But we cannot merely modify this away. We need an educational system reform, but we cannot purely educate this away. We need to protest, but we cannot merely march this away. We need dialogue, but we can’t talk this away. We need new systems, new institutions, new policy changes. We need new alliances and new relationships.
We need reparations.
We need a revolution as the solution. We need to not only dismantle the inequalities in our society, but we need to build up Black and Brown communities. This is constructive more than it is destructive. Starting right here in Evanston.
So, to my White brothers and sisters, Asian, Latinx, Middle Eastern and others, I ask you how would you answer the cry and how will you respond to the call?
To all the non-Black people, you can focus on the reactions that you see in the streets and the destruction, or you can understand the conditions and the context that has created that.
Black folks, we need to focus on what will help us to build our communities constructively, our youth, and our institutions. As Dr. King preached in the 1960’s, we need a revolution of values. We need a revolution of what Sai Baba says are, human values. For not only are too many White people not seeing the humanity in Black and brown people, but they have lost their own humanity because of this virus we’re all inflicted with called racism. We’re all impacted by that.
We need a new mental construct of what it means to be Black, all of us. What it means to be American, what it means to be a human being. We need a new heart. We need love, and I don’t mean Romeo and Juliet kind of love. I’m talking about a love for life, a love for our planet, a love for one another, a love for something greater than our own hedonistic selfish desires.
We need a new spirit. We need new morality, a new ethic in terms of what it means to be a human. We need a new economy. We need financial revolution. We need a healthcare revolution. We need a culture revolution in this society, and may we all galvanize in this moment.
And in closing, I say yes, we’re angry, but let’s have a righteous anger. Let’s have a righteous indignation. Let’s be tired, but righteously. Let’s do that so we don’t alienate our allies and our brothers and sisters that are out there. This is not about burning down buildings, it’s about building our own communities. But time is not our ally folks. We cannot wait. There is no longer time. This may not happen in our lifetime, but we cannot be discouraged. For our ancestors who fought and died for what we have did not see it in their lifetime, we may not see it in ours, but we must fight for our ancestors and for those future generations.
We have to remember them.
So, who are we to state we are too tired to fight? Who are we to say we are too discouraged to fight? We can’t afford to do that. There is no choice. So out of chaos, after the hurricane, after the tornado it lays ground for new order. So something constructive can come out of this destruction and it’s going to be ground for new order in our society.
We need to rebuild this new order. We need a new president, new coalitions, new relationships and a new way into our futures. Right now, 2020 has brought around 2020 vision. And for those who could not see before, maybe you can see now the multi-generational anguish and pain that our people have been feeling for over 400 years, for over 2,000 years. This was happening in Africa before we came to the US.
So, I say this time it’s different. It’s been too long. How long? Too long. Thank you, my brothers and sisters, everybody who’s out there.