“I’ve noticed that there’s missing history, history that has to do with my skin,” said Faith, a student at Central High School in Providence. “I personally feel that the only way we can all see eye to eye is if we educate those who don’t understand Black culture.“
Friday’s Providence Juneteenth Rally was a youth-led and organized call to action demanding systemic change and the dismantling of all local and state policies that promote anti-blackness, police brutality, and racism all around the world. Organizers say they placed an emphasis on Rhode Island and specifically Providence for this demonstration as there are systems that uphold and support white supremacy, anti-blackness, and racism here in our city.
“Now more than ever it is important we bring awareness and change to these systems,” wrote organizers.
The march was organized by the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE), Providence Student Union (PSU), Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), Leadership Journey, and Direct Action for Rights & Equality (DARE).
The march stopped at the Providence Public Safety Complex, the Rhode Island Department of Education, and the Rhode Island State House. At the State House young people spoke about their experiences and hopes for the future. Full video of all the speakers is below.
Here is the organizer’s list of demands:
- Defund the Police and invest in the health and well-being of communities of color – physical and mental health care, education, community mediation programs, youth programming
- The Providence Public School District (PPSD) remove all School Resource Officers (SROs) from our public schools, invest in counselors and social and emotional support staff, and implement student protections outlined by the Providence Student Union;
- The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) implements and supports initiatives to actively increase the number of educators of color in the PPSD, as well as provide safe social and emotional support systems for current and future educators of color.
- Adequate education should be a constitutional right – Uplift and support the Cook v Raimondo Rhode Island Civics lawsuit.
- Two Providence, Rhode Island students leaders be instated on the Rhode Island school board of education.
- Two student leaders instated on the Providence Public School Board.
- The Rhode Island Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEOBoR) be repealed to stop the protection of officers accused of misconduct.
- The gang database maintained by Providence Police Department be dismantled and decommissioned
- Investment in free quality daycare for all children so that parents can work with peace of mind and children receive the enriched early childhood care they deserve;
- The City stop supporting projects that gentrify our neighborhoods and force us out of our homes, invest in housing people who are homeless, adopt rent control policies that will stabilize the housing market
- The State prevent banks from forcing mass eviction following the COVID-19 Crisis
- Make Juneteeth a State holiday.
- City and State representatives create and support legislation that officially implements the Providence Student Union’s Student Bill of Rights
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Below is the video:
Opening words, and the beginning of the march:
The march, part two: Passing the Providence Public Library:
The march, part three: Arrival at the State House:
Kiah Bryant, co-director of DARE:
Vanessa Florez-Maldonado of PrYSM:
Historian and educator Marco McWilliams:
Nikki, a Providence Public Schools social worker:
Amazing poetry from Eugenie:
Faith, a student at Central High School:
Najeli and Brooklyn, from PROV X:
Eights and 46 seconds of silence in honor of George Floyd and the 123 lives lost to police violence since his death:
The only time the march seemed to be under the threat of violence was when the Providence Police Department dispatched baton wielding officers in full riot gear to intimidate the young protesters: