One Charlottesville organizer weighs in on bridging the racial divide

One Charlottesville organizer weighs in on bridging the racial divide
Protesters gathered outside the Charlottesville Police Department. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The unrest across the country has left some wondering what can be done to right the wrongs of the past and support black lives in the future. Angeline Conn gave input about what needs to happen in Charlottesville and across the country to signal change.

Conn wants to make it clear that she is unable to speak for the black community as a whole. However, as a black woman and organizer in the community, she is speaking up about what work can be done beyond just recognizing that black lives indeed matter.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic and during this uprising, people are showing up," Conn said. "That speaks for itself.”

It is no secret that more people have taken notice to racial disparities and discrimination in light of recent events. Conn says the community’s cries for justice have fallen on deaf ears so far. Now it is time to amplify the conversation. She urges everyone who filled the streets at the protest last week to fill seats at school board meetings, city council meetings, and more.

“If you feel strongly enough to be moved to have come to the ‘No Justice No Peace’ rally, I need you to feel that compelled to go to these places: City council, school board meeting, jail board meetings," Conn explained. "I need you to go there and do those same vocal cries of outrage.”

For those trying to be an ally to people of color, Conn has words of wisdom.

“Listen to all of the communities that you’re trying to be an ally with," she said. "Listen to them and let them lead. An ally stands besides not in front or behind.”

Conn also encourages people to take the time to reflect and educate themselves on the oppression that many have turned a blind eye to over the years.

“It’s not my job to educate folks about black folks," Conn said. "My job is to is to ensure that we are safe. We are abolishing systems of oppression. That’s my job.”

To inspire action, Charlottesville anti-racist organizers came up with a list of demands for justice.

“One of the main conversations that needs to take place is the defunding of the police department,” she stated.

Conn’s message remains clear: there is much work to be done and it cannot fall solely on the shoulders of African-Americans.

“A movement isn’t one person doing something. This is collective involvement," she said. "Only time will tell if our voices were heard.”

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