AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – City leaders are listening to voices that are peacefully protesting inequality and injustice. The community is starting healthy conversations in the wake of so much unrest in this country.
“I’ve seen injustices literally everywhere. I actually just took a vacation to Jekyll Island, not even a week ago, and when I got off of a boat tour there was a gentleman who called us the hard N-word,” said Makenzie Johnson. She’s an organizer with Black Lives Matter Aiken Movement.
Many people in Aiken are striving for true indivisibility and justice for all.
St. Paul Lutheran Pastor Jeff Erbskorn said, “Oh God, call us into a deeper relationship with one to another to be your people who care for one another.”
The main message at the conference, we are all americans.
Aiken County’s NAACP President Eugene White said, “All men are created equal and are endowed upon them by their creator. Do rights amongst them. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
About 31,000 people call Aiken home. People of color make up about a third of that. People of all races were at the city’s address June 3. United as one.
“We want racism to be a public health crisis. It needs to be weeded out. It needs to be in the education system and people need to shut it down,” demanded Johnson.
Several people took to the podium to speak on the issues including Reverend Paul Bush with Concerned Ministries Fellowship, Mayor Rick Osbon, and Councilwoman Andrea Gregory.
“As a Latina minority, I stand by you and with you to drive change. We need to drive change on how some of the society views us especially, the black and African American population,” said Gregory.
“It’s a time to go beyond words and to take action to make sure we see it that way. And while we can’t change hearts, we want to make sure everything we do policy, procedures, practices are in a manner that is conducive to equal for all,” explained Mayor Osbon.
Johnson added, “We have to speak up and speak out as a community together. Black, white, Asian, Latino, whatever you may be it matters. Your voice matters.”
There is a peaceful protest planned on June 6 in Aiken at Odell Weeks (1700 Whiskey Rd, Aiken, SC 29803). It should start at 6:00 p.m.