Vigil for George Floyd and Black Lives: June 5th, 2020 Zoom Broadcast from Boone, NC.

The following are the opening remarks spoken as part of a virtual Vigil for George Floyd and Black Lives, part of the efforts against racism and state-sanctioned murder of Black people by Small and Mighty Acts. Small and Mighty Acts is a grassroots community group based in Boone, NC founded by Cara Hagan in 2016. SAMA’s mission is to help people reach their civic potential. Guests included Tiffany and RJ Christian, Jacinta White, and Mary Lyons.

Community Altar for Black Lives organized by SAMA, Downtown Boone, NC.

Ceremony has been and will always be a vehicle for grief during challenging times. I thank you community — in Appalachia and beyond — for joining together to pay respects to the recently deceased. George Floyd, murdered on May 25th, whose death marks the ignition of a world-wide fight for Black Lives; Tony McDade, murdered on May 27th; Breonna Taylor, on what would have been her 27th birthday, murdered on March 13th; Ahmaud Arbery, murdered on February 23rd; and a host of Black lives lost to anti-Black racism. In our time together I hope we can begin to confront the profound sadness that is the loss of a son, a brother, a cousin, a father, a friend. A mother, a sister, a daughter, a mentor, a lover, a colleague, a familiar face, a piece of one’s community. None of the aforementioned were all of these things. But they were each some of these things and it should be acknowledged that any one of these things, lost to anyone, is sorrow.

I am most disheartened to acknowledge that this event is not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last. The blight of state-sanctioned violence and vigilantism against Black people in our country is one that affects every institution, every transaction, and indeed, every person in our society. It has taken no less than four hundred years for America to create, recreate, and to nurture a culture of supremacy and fear. And I fear that if we do not utilize this moment as an opportunity to begin to undo the knots white supremacy has tied in our hearts and in our minds, it will take another four humdred years to even pick up the rope.

It is likely that no one here on this call today knew George Floyd Personally. It is likely that no one on this call knew Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, or Ahmaud Arbery, personally. What is more likely though, is that you know something about their lived experiences. You are a runner. You go to bed each night, with the expectation that you will sleep and wake in the morning safely in your own home. You go about your business each day, making your way through the familiar spaces of your home city or town with the expectation that you will do much the same, tomorrow.

Zoom Screen Shot from the Virtual Vigil.

If you are Black in America, “tomorrow” is a precarious concept. “Tomorrow” means that you live another day to occupy spaces that were never meant for you. “Tomorrow” means that you have the burden of carrying in your body, generations of trauma born of race-based oppression. “Tomorrow” means that the very breath you draw into your lungs is an affront to the supremacy run rampant in our country and those who uphold it, willfully or unintentionally. “Tomorrow” is not something generously offered to you by the ideals enshrined in our country’s founding documents. “Tomorrow” means you must fight harder than you are fighting today.

As we turn our attention to our ceremony tonight, I ask that you remember that ritual is more than performance. It is both spiritual balm and an act of defiance. In this short time together, we will denounce Black death and SAY THEIR NAMES. We will lift them up with light and prayer and song. We will fight for them, and fight for each other.

Guests Tiffany Christian and RJ Christian were invited to SAY THEIR NAMES. The over 150 names on this list include Black men, women, and transgender people killed by state-sanctioned violence, white vigilantism, or hate crimes. The names included on this list are but a small fraction of those killed in this country since its founding. Many of those killed go unnamed and unremembered by history.

You can watch the second half of the vigil here (I was a bad zoom operator!): https://vimeo.com/426575626

*Victims From the Trans Community

**Victims From the Civil Rights Era

*** Lynching Victims

George Floyd

Breonna Taylor

Ahmaud Arbery

Wilbon Woodard

Tony McDade*

Tanisha Anderson

Shelly Frey

Alberta Spruil

Miriam Carey

Michelle Cusseaux

Kayla Moore

Sandra Bland

Megan Hockaday

Alexia Christian

Shantel Davis

Muhlaysia Booker *

Rekia Boyd

Eric Garner

Michael Brown

Laquan McDonald

Michelle Tamika Washington *

Paris Cameron *

Tamir Rice

Walter Scott

Claire Legato *

Freddie Gray

Jamar Clark

Alton Sterling

Philando Castile

Chynal Lindsey *

Stephon Clark

Botham Jean

Ezell Ford

Natasha Mckenna

Bettie Jones

Atatiana Jefferson

Eric Reason

Dominique Clayton

John Crawford III

Akai Gurley

Chanel Scurlock *

Rumian Brisbon

Jerame Reid

George Mann

Mathew Ajibade

Frank Smart

Zoe Spears *

Tony Robinson

Anthony Hill

Mya Hall

Brooklyn Lindsey *

Denali Berries Stuckey *

Phillip White

Eric Harris

William Chapman II

Alexia Christian

Brendon Glenn

Tracy Single *

Victor Manuel Larosa

Johnathan Sanders

Freddie Blue

Bubba Walker *

Salvado Ellswood

Albert joseph Davis

Darius Stewart

Billy Ray Davis

Samuel Dubois

Michael Sabbie

Brian Keith Day

Kiki Fantroy *

Christian taylor

Troy Robinson

Asshams Pharoah Manley

Jazzaline Ware *

Felix Kumi

Keith Harrison McLeod

Junior Prosper

Lamontez Jones

Paterson Brown

Dominic Hutchinson

Anthony Ashford

Alonzo Smith

Ashanti Cameron *

Tyree Crawford

India Kager

La’vante Biggs

Michael Lee Marshall

Jamar Clark

Richard Perkins

Nathaniel Harris Pickett

Bennie Lee Tignor

Miguel Espinal

Michael Noel

Kevin Matthews

Bettie Jones

Quintonio Legrier

Keith Childress Jr.

Keanna Mattel *

Janet Wilson

Randy Nelson

Antronie Scott

Wendell Celestine

David Joseph

Calin Roquemore

Dyzhawn Perkins

Christopher Davis

Marco Loud

Peter Gaines

Torrey Robinson

Darius Robinson

Kevin Hicks

Mary Truxillo

DeMarcus Semer

Eillie Tillman

Dana Martin *

Terrill Thomas

Sylville Smith

Terrence Crutcher

Paul O’Neal

Jamagio Jamar Berryman*

Alteria Woods

Jordan Edwards

Aaron Bailey

Ronell Foster

Itali Marlowe*

Antwon Rose II

Pamela Turner

Nikki Kuhnhausen

Amadou Diallo

Christopher Whitfield

Tydi Dansbury*

Christopher McCorvey

Eric Reason

Michael Lorenzo Dean

Pebbles “LaDime” Dime Doe *

Bailey Reeves *

Emmett Till**

Mack Charles Parker**

Herbert Lee and Louis Allen**

Cpl. Roman Ducksworth, Jr.**

Medgar Evers**

Virgil Lamar Ware**

Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie**

Jimmie Lee Jackson**

Benjamin Brown**

Warless Jackson**

David Boone ***

Frank Stack ***

George Taylor ***

Isaac Lincoln ***

2 Unknown Negro Women, Arkansas, 1907 ***

****It is worth noting that when doing a search for women killed during the civil rights movement, most results were about Viola Gregg Liuzzo, the only white woman to be killed during the civil rights movement.

Working at the intersections of movement, words, digital space, contemplative practice, community. University prof, community organizer, film festival curator.