“There is no reason why we cannot live together”
– Rev. Kudzie Madihza, BLMDoncaster, 07.06.2020
Sunday was a proud day for the Black Lives Matter movement in Doncaster. Lead organiser, Olivia Jones, brought together the voices of a community in pain and gave them a platform on which to express it.
“I’m tired, man. I think we are all tired,” tells Braam Saget, the third of four spokespersons at the event. The line-up presented a medley of speakers and performers, exemplifying simply but effectively the richness and diversity of our local black community.
In an interview with Doncaster Free Press before the event, organiser Olivia stated: “There can be quite a negative attitude towards Doncaster, but we have such a rich diversity I think this could be a moment to bring everyone together,” and she was completely right. Despite the rain, despite the pandemic, despite their age, ability or their race, Doncastrians from local and afar came in their hundreds to show their support and solidarity. The atmosphere was that of hope, togetherness and our shared commonality: anti-racism.
The event opened with a few words from Olivia herself, in particular pertaining to the absolute necessity of social distancing; something that many were well aware could damage the events success and create a negative public perception of the campaign and issue, were it not adhered to. However, there was a great show of respect and consideration for this aspect and I think I speak on behalf of many when I say that it was a proud and dignified moment for Doncaster and its people.
On the performative side of the event we had Rumbi Tauro’s moving rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ from the musical Hairspray, an emotive and poignant spoken word performance by Ryan Harston titled ‘Nine-One-On(c)e’ and a speech followed by a lip-sync performance by local drag queen, Naomi Carter of ‘How to Let Your Light Shine Bright’, a speech by motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols.
We also heard the voices and stories of Lamour White, a firefighter and DJ, Braam Saget and Reverend Kudzie Madihza. There was a palpable sense of urgency in the words of all three speakers, a need for reform, a need for the world to do better.
“It is not about education level,” explains Rev. Kudzie Madihza, “it is about not being ignorant of people around you. A child is not born racist, a child is born with love, a child is born innocent. Teach them the way of life.”
In honour of George Floyd, the crowd were asked to kneel for nine minutes. The silence resonated in the square and gave way to introspection: how did this terrible act come to be? How did society get to this point? Most importantly, how is it that George Floyd is but a drop in the ocean of innocent black lives taken at the hands of the police? Accepting that there is a problem is hard. Dealing with it can be even harder. But Doncaster came out and showed its alliance, taking the first steps towards change. May that alliance long continue.
Words by Libby Shaw
Images by Ryan Harston / Urban Conceptz