ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Dozens of protesters gathered at Haskell Park for the latest demonstration organized by Rockford Youth Activism. However, organizers took a break from marching to turn their focus towards community education.
“I think that it’s important for conversations to continue to happen. I think it’s important for dialogue to continue to happen. And I think today is set up really well for dialogue to happen between people,” explained organizer Leslie Rolfe.
After marching through the city six times over the past two weeks, the organization began a different kind of demonstration. Attendees listened to a speech from Martin Luther King Jr. over the loudspeaker and were offered free food, clothes, books, and movies.
“That way, maybe people who wouldn’t come out for other reasons will maybe come out to try to get food that they can get or get clothes that they may need because that’s important too,” Rolfe added.
Leslie Rolfe and other organizers say education is an important component to understanding. They want people to learn about Black History through a series of speakers.
“This is a little bit more helpful, I think, to me. I think sometimes with the marches, and the protests, people don’t understand what it’s all about. But here, you can come together, people can talk to each other, and get a better understanding,” explained attendee Van Stewart.
Stewart says the demonstration was a nice change of pace.
“When you can sit down and have people talk to each other, they can see that what the people who are protesting want is what everybody wants. It’s nothing weird or unique or different, it’s just common decency that all people expect and deserve,” he added.
Rolfe says that RYA is prepared to continue organizing different types of demonstrations–including more marches–through the end of the summer.
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