By Chea Waters Evans

“We need healing, and we need reconciliation, but first we need justice. We need justice for George Floyd and we need justice for all the people of color that lost their lives, and their loved ones, to the brutality of this nation’s past.”

Last Friday, in dense 84-degree heat, Jeanne Kaczka-Valliere addressed a crowd of approximately 200 people through the sunroof of a Jeep in the parking lot at Charlotte Central School. The Charlotte Rally Against Racism, organized by Kazcka-Valliere and Maura Wygmans, drew a group of peaceful protesters, most wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We cannot forget about that past,” she said. “We have work to do. We cannot heal as a nation, we cannot heal as a community, until we have that justice and that truth.”

Protesters lined Charlotte Hinesburg road, holding signs and occasionally chanting, “No justice, no peace.” Many cars slowed and honked as they drove by. At 4:00 p.m., the group moved to the sidewalk and grass in front of the school to lie still for 8 minutes to reflect the amount of time George Floyd laid in the street with a police officer’s knee on his neck, which ultimately ended in his death. Even the children present were quiet; protest attendees were largely families, many with young children.

After, the names of black Americans who were recently killed due to police violence were read aloud and repeated back by the crowd.
During her speech, Kaczka-Valliere said, “The place that our children face the most racism is at school. That’s why we’re doing it here.”

She had one final request: “This summer, I ask you to commit to being anti-racist.”