Change is coming. It might be slow, uneven and loud, or it might be quick and quiet, but it’s definitely coming.
Clear evidence of this was presented this past Saturday, October 24, in Deale, MD, where approximately 150 people marched in support of Black Lives Matter, and heard from a who’s-who of Anne Arundel County’s social justice warriors. The group gathered at the field next to the library, and with an Anne Arundel County police escort, marched down Deale-Churchton Road to the circle at Bay Front Road, then returned to the field.
That section of Deale-Churchton Road was shut down completely for the duration of the march, and for the most part, the march was peaceful and uneventful. This was due, in large part, to a relatively significant Anne Arundel County police presence. There were 7 police cars plus 4 additional officers on bicycles. The only counter-protesting came from one man yelling profanity at the beginning of the march and a Trump supporter who was videoing at the end of the march.
The group included people of all colors and ages, and was not limited only to Deale residents. Interviews with attendees revealed people who came from Odenton, Edgewater, Riva and other Anne Arundel county locations. Regardless of where their homes are, they were all there for the same basic reasons: a) to show support for Black and Latino communities; b) to stand up and say that racism won’t be tolerated any longer; and c) to let racists know that people are watching and listening.
This is not to say that all is sunshine and flowers in southern Anne Arundel County (SoCo). There is still a pervasive racist culture, based on the lie that has been perpetuated across many generations that we should be afraid of Black people. People helping out behind the scenes, to get this march off the ground, were called domestic terrorists for having the march, and some of those who participated faced negative comments and criticisms from their friends and family about their support for BLM. In the recent past, there have also been various ugly, profane, and threatening confrontations about placement of BLM and Biden/Harris signs.
It is probably an understatement to say that this march was historic. Along with the marches in Edgewater, Riva, and Shady Side over the summer, it was another data point marking the changes coming to SoCo. These marches are important to bring awareness to the inequalities faced by Black and Latino populations, and to show support for those same communities.
The speakers who wrapped up the event were
• Carl Snowden, Convenor of the Caucus of African American Leaders of Anne Arundel County and long-time civil rights activist
• Steuart Pittman, Anne Arundel County Executive
• CJ Meushaw, activist and dedicated member of Stand Up for Racial Justice, and recipient of a 2020 Fannie Lou Hamer award
• Ron Lee, long-time community activist and contractor for public affairs with the Department of Defense
• Bishop Antonio Palmer, Senior Pastor at the Kingdom Celebration Center in Odenton, and first vice president of the United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County
• Shaneka Henson, Maryland Delegate (D30A), and recipient of a 2020 Fannie Lou Hamer Award
Also participating were Heather Bagnall (MD Delegate, D33), Sarah Elfreth (MD Senator, D30), and Lisa Rodvien (County Council, D6). There were also representatives present from the NAACP and SoCo is Kind.
Standing in front of a boat in the marina behind them, ironically named “Redneck,” all of the speakers noted the historical precedent set by this particular march in this particular area, and stressed that we must all continue to march, speak out, and demand accountability from each other, from elected officials, as well as from the institutions that serve communities. To that end, Mr. Pittman said that at this time next year, we should see body-worn cameras in use by all county police officers and a civilian review board. Additionally, Mr. Snowden encouraged all of us to, “participate in 1 more march, to the ballot box…and tell the man in the White House on November 3, that enough is enough, and send him home.” He also made the point that when Americans vote, we will state the future that we want.
Ms. CJ Meushaw challenged us to do some research to find out who our people are and where we come from, because we all have a place where we are the indigenous people, and we need to learn that we are all part of the human family. We need to keep attending rallies and marches, posting signs, having the hard conversations with our neighbors and families, beyond November, because there will still be work to do.
Mr. Ron Lee identified that we “are not here to count numbers, but to make numbers count,” so showing up in Deale was important. Just as Ms. Meushaw had said, Mr. Lee reiterated that we need to speak up about BLM everywhere we can, even when confronted with people who disagree. All Lives Matter has been the racist response to BLM, but reality is that ALM has never been extended to Black people. Mr. Lee gave crystal clear examples of this such as when the 3/5 rule made it into our Constitution, when the Jim Crow laws were passed, when redlining happened, and when the children of Little Rock, AR needed protection after the Brown v Board of Ed decision was handed down. At those times, ALL lives clearly did NOT matter. Black Lives do Matter. It isn’t a point of semantics, and you can’t even consider that all lives matter until Black lives matter.
Mr. Palmer also stressed the absolute need for everybody to vote. He said, “Let’s change the climate of divisiveness and fear into one of peace and inclusion and unity by the power of our votes.” The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the disparities, injustices, and inequities facing Black America. A disproportionate share of the coronavirus hospitalizations and death toll in America have come from the Black population, due to underlying conditions and a lack of adequate healthcare. These disparities, along with an imbalance in economic opportunities, can be eliminated with concerted and targeted efforts.
Ms. Henson was the last speaker, who first led the crowd in a rousing “Black Lives…Matter” call and response. The key takeaway from her remarks was that despite reports of a broken system in America, the fact is that the system is doing exactly what it was built to do. The systems related to home ownership, maternal and baby health, standardized testing, healthcare, law enforcement, and all others, were built on racism. We need to understand the lies that are the underpinnings of these systems, and catch people up on the truth. Each of us has a responsibility to stand up and say Black Lives Matter.
Keep spreading the word and the truth, and VOTE. Black Lives Matter.
At this point, Carl Snowden would say, “a luta continua,” a Portuguese phrase that has its roots in the Mozambique liberation movement, and it means “the struggle continues.” To that, I would add the other portion used by many liberation and resistance movements around the world, “Victoria Ascerta,” which means “and victory is certain.” A Luta Continua, Victoria Ascerta. It is a reminder that victory and justice will not come easily or quickly. All past victories, regardless of how incomplete or bumbling they may have been, happened because millions of people understood that as long as the struggle continues, victory is certain. We lose only when we stop fighting.
Questions or comments? See our Facebook post.
Video of the march, including interviews with random participants, is here.
A compete video of all speakers is here.
Ruth Glaser is usually on the other side of the Arundel Patriot as an editor, but felt that this event was so important and a watershed moment in the history of racism in SoCo, and she had to make sure that the word got out.