More than 100 community members gathered for the Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.,Thursday evening.
Around 6:30 p.m. protesters gathered around with signs in preparation to march in downtown Waxahachie.
Dr. Jamal Rasheed, founder and president of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame and Prince Hall Fraternal Cemetery, said a few words before the march began: “We can do this peacefully. I’m gonna ask each and everyone of you to take a moment before we go down to the courthouse ... and kneel for a few seconds of prayer please,” Rasheed said. “In your own special way, give yourself an opportunity to meditate for a couple of minutes and pray that we move forward in this injustice to make changes in this society, here in Waxahachie. And that we are able to do it here peacefully without causing any lives to be taken.”
Rasheed then passed the megaphone to the organizer of the protest, Waxahachie graduate and professional motivational speaker, Da’Corius Armstrong.
“I want to first and foremost say thank you to everybody that came out here and is supporting the movement,” Armstrong stated. “We are understanding in Waxahachie that we aren’t going to let nobody come out here in Ellis County ... we aren’t going to fight against each other in Ellis County. We are going to come together and we’re not going to see any color and we’re gonna make a change.”
After the introductions, the people began the protest, marching toward the Waxahachie courthouse. The Waxahachie Police shut down half of Martin Luther King. Jr., Blvd. to allow a safe avenue for protesters to walk through.
People joined in different chants that ranged from “Black Lives Matter,” to “No Justice, No Peace.” The representation was diverse from children to elders, blacks to whites, Latinos to Asians, etc.
The courthouse was soon surrounded by the community, as Rasheed began to speak.
“You have asked for your opportunity to speak. Your opportunity now is fall or be heard ... Let your voice be heard. You are tired of oppression, is that right? You are tired of injustices, is that right? You are tired of yourself being allowed to not be able to have freedom, justice and equality, is that right?” Rasheed asked. “And now is your time to be heard. Your time has come. Your time has come to be involved in the political system of this country.”
He reiterated the importance of voting and how that is the step that will help make a change in society. “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” Rasheed exclaimed.
Rasheed said that the people need to be seen at the city council meetings and voting polls in order for change to be made, starting in the city. “We need to come up with a strategic plan. Don’t let this be the last day we come together to voice your opinion and voice change,” he stated.
Then, Armstrong took the megaphone and began to speak to the crowd.
“We gotta come together as one happy family together. This right here, black and white, creates this together. This is not by myself. I did not do this by all myself. As much as you want me to have this all by myself, I cannot bring out the city all by myself,” Armstrong passionately shouted.
Armstrong also spoke out about the Waxahachie Police Department.
“I have spent a long week studying with these police officers. I’ve been getting on their side of the mission. They want to reach out and help our community. So if the person that we are scared of wants to help us, what are we waiting for?” he asked. “It takes everybody to make the dream work.”
At one point, the crowd began to sing “Lean On,” by DJ Snake and Major Lazer, in unison.
Waxahachie resident Oliver Reown shared his reasons for participating in the protest. “We are really outraged at what has been happening. And a lot of folks think we are angry right now. No, I’ve been angry for 50 years,” shared Reown, who is black. “And something has to change. We are outraged. And see there are six black men in my house. So you see why I’m gravely concerned?”
Reown first protested back in the '60s, during the civil rights movement. He was elated that the Waxahachie community came out in support of the black community.
Additionally, community members were stationed on the side of the protest march, passing out water bottles to the protesters.
The protest ended around 8 p.m., with one resident sharing her story and hurt with the community. The attendees took a knee as she spoke and lifted their fists in support.
Armstrong shared his reasoning behind the organization of the peaceful protest.
“What made me want to organize this protest was because a lot of people were quick to act out in chaos. I wanted the voices heard and the right ideas kept in mind,” Armstrong stated. “I don’t want the Waxahachie Police Department going down as the worst police department. It’s not even about that. It’s about keeping all eyes together and them doing their job to protect us and serve.”
Additionally, there will be a follow-up for the community to be a part of.
“We are going to do a community day where we’re gonna bring out everybody so we can live out that Waxahachie alma mater ’glorious members never die.’ We’re gonna come and we’re not gonna see color and we’re gonna make memories,” Armstrong said.