“Tuesday will be a year. It has been a long year. It has been a painful year … for your life to change in a blink of an eye. I still don’t know why.” - Bridgett Floyd
In early May, looking ahead to our regular meeting date – the fourth Tuesday of the month – CCDP officers realized that May’s fourth Tuesday would fall on the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd.
We decided to mark the occasion. Within just a few weeks, the team found a location, obtained a permit, and lined up speakers, sponsors, Black-owned businesses to set up tables, found a vendor to sell food, and addressed myriad details to hold a “Vigil for Black Lives, Honoring the Life of George Floyd” at the Samuel W. Davis Sr. multipurpose field in Hickory’s Ridgeview neighborhood.
If you build it, they will come. And, they, we, so many people, gathered in the ball field that years ago had been graced by Ridgeview High School’s “Untouchables.”
First Vice Chair Gavin J. Gabriel and Secretary Toni Abernathy did a phenomenal job as emcees and providing leadership on developing the program. Third Vice Chair Sarah Sakatos did an amazing job with the publicity, program design, and logistics. Second Vice Chair Deborah Hollingsworth helped line up speakers. Events Coordinator Kim Naff helped with a host of items and details. Treasurer Gene Biggerstaff helped with expenses and follow up. A number of people, notably Mark Sakatos, Carole Hovland, Eleanor Schmidt, and Melissa Snyder, pitched in as needed.
The speakers were powerful, but one of the most powerful portions of the program started at 7:19 pm. Attendees had been told to set their phone alarms for that time. At 7:19 pm the baseball field’s scoreboard clock started counting down nine minutes and 29 seconds, the length of time Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck.
During that time, Gabriel and Abernathy read off names – which the crowd repeated – of Black people who were killed by police officers and others. Emmett Till was one of the names. As Gabriel told WHKY, “It’s necessary to remember … this is not a new issue. We have a lot of work to do … that starts within ourselves.”
Yes, we have a lot of work to do as humans and as Democrats. On that Tuesday, we showed our neighbors and our community that Democrats care. About everyone. If we’ve learned anything these past four years, we know it is more important than ever to step up, be involved, and work to elect leaders who care.
Elections have consequences. My thanks to everyone who supported the vigil as speakers, sponsors, and attendees as well as to all those open-minded caring people who run for office, register voters, make phone calls, write letters, clean headquarters, make donations, and so much more.
Thank you, all, for helping, for showing up, for making a difference.