Organizers of an upcoming Black Lives Matter demonstration in Marble Falls chose Saturday, June 13, as a date for a specific reason.
“On June 13, 1866, African-American citizens were considered citizens,” Bryce Laake explained.
On that day, Congress passed the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, making “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to jurisdiction thereof” citizens. It was ratified two years later.
Laake and fellow organizers Mauri Harris and Shyann Brown are holding the demonstration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 13, in Johnson Park, 230 Avenue J in Marble Falls. They spent several hours June 5 working out the details with the Marble Falls Police Department, members of the Marble Falls City Council, and local pastors.
While a rumor has persisted of outsiders coming into city to create havoc, all three are from the Marble Falls area. They decided to hold the event to raise awareness of issues facing African-Americans and other minorities while also letting the community know they want to build a place where everyone is welcomed.
Brown explained that while the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody spurred them on, they are also holding the demonstration because of the bigotry they have faced.
“We decided to do a protest because we reflected on our own prejudice that happened to us and reflected on the past events of George Floyd, which motivated us to do this in our own community, where it actually effects us,” Brown said. “We’re doing a protest to bring people together as a united front to make a change where we live.”
They are also aware of some who have expressed concerns and fears over the demonstration. That’s the group of people Harris wants to reach.
“I don’t think it’s all about people coming together,” she said. “I think it’s about the people that aren’t coming together. I hope they get a change from seeing people come together. It’s not a riot. We’re not looting. It’s what it’s supposed to be like.”
This is one of the last things Harris will do in the Highland Lakes before reporting to U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, for basic training. She’ll be the fourth generation in her family to serve in the military. (Read more about her story in the June edition of The Picayune Magazine.)
“It’s not just about this community. To me, it reached the world,” Harris added.
The demonstration will feature a series of speakers, including local pastors and activists, as well as a prayer circle and lunch. Laake said it’s important to break bread together as a community.
The Marble Falls Police Department will be participating in the demonstration along with members of Marble Falls Fire Rescue, Marble Falls Area EMS, and Marble Falls city government. Mayor John Packer is expected to attend, organizers said.
All three expressed their gratitude and excitement to have so many local pastors, community leaders, the police, and others come out in support of them and the event.
“I love the support,” Harris said. “If anything, it draws us closer together as a group.”
For more information about the Black Lives Matter demonstration, contact Monique Breaux at MarbleFallsPeacefulProtest@gmail.com.