Even after the daily protests and marches against police brutality and social injustice become less frequent, a community leader in Fort Worth says the discussion will likely not slow down.
Bob Ray Sanders is a former co-chair of Fort Worth’s Race & Culture Task Force. The 23-member task force was appointed in 2017 to examine issues on racial equity and bias within areas like criminal justice, economic development, and education.
“I saw young people reacting to this in a way that I hadn’t seen before, and I can go all the way back to the March on Washington in 1963. I wasn’t there, but I was certainly watching it on television as a child,” Sanders said in reference to the ongoing protests after the death of George Floyd. “To me, I think the nation has finally come together in spite of all the divisiveness that is coming out of Washington and other places. That’s what we’ve seen here. There’s something about what’s happening now -- this will not soon be forgotten. It will at least be talked about for a little while longer than we normally talk about it.”
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Friday marked a full week of planned demonstrations through Fort Worth with several hundred calling for justice for Floyd. The Minneapolis man’s death has grabbed international attention and sparked protests throughout the U.S. after now ex-Minneapolis police Derek Chauvin was seen on videotape kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Chauvin faces a second-degree murder charge, while three other ex-officers -- Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng -- have been charged with aiding and abetting murder, according to criminal complaints filed by the state of Minnesota.
Since then, protesters in Fort Worth have called for change. The protests, largely peaceful, have been filled with protesters chanting “black lives matter” and denouncing systemic racism.
“My hope 30 years ago was that I would not be seeing the things I am seeing today, and I’m seeing it. My hope was that racism would have almost disappeared from American life. The more I matured, the more I realized that was never going to happen in my lifetime and probably in another generation’s lifetime. That’s not going to happen. Racism will be with us always,” Sanders said. “The hope I see is in those young faces that I saw on the streets yesterday and the day before and the day before that, if we’re going to have any hope, it’s going to come from them.”
Community activist Donnell Ballard is president of United My Justice and said the group did not plan to stop protesting anytime soon.
“This is a movement in what we’re doing. It starts with us coming together and organizing, but also – we’re going to have to get the right people in office that make the decisions. Those people that make the decisions that make policies that could make change,” Ballard said. “As long as people are marching and young people are out here saying, 'Hey, we’re going to continue to march,' I’m going to continue to be with them. As long it takes. If it takes six months, if it takes a year… if it takes two years, as long as they say, ‘We want to do it,’ I’m in.”
Sanders said substantial change takes time, but change is possible if people remain focused. The protests are a big step forward because they have grabbed international attention, according to Sanders.
“When I see those young people out there, so far – they are not tired. I hope they never get tired as I have been in my day,” he said. “The protest will die down eventually, but the tension in the community will not die down, so the focus of trying to make change happen should not die down.”
The protest organized by Ballard on Friday night begins at 6 p.m. They will march through downtown Fort Worth beginning around 7 p.m.