A group of children and community leaders held a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Wednesday afternoon.
About 25 to 30 students from the Freedom School in Springfield gathered for a peaceful demonstration at City Hall Plaza, Ruth Lawson from Covenant United Methodist Church said. The students were ages 7 to 12.
This summer is the Freedom School has been offered in Springfield at the church, she said. Freedom Schools are a national program based in Washington, D.C., that “seeks to build strong, literate and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation and world today,” according to its website.
One request of Freedom School students is they participate in a day of social action, said Austin Smith, an intern at the Springfield Freedom School.
“We chose Black Lives Matter because these children are seeing what’s happening in the news around them and they want to be able to interpret it and also act on it,” Smith said.
Freedom School students sang and danced in the plaza, and held up homemade signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”
It’s important to talk to children about the issues facing the country, Smith said.
“We tend to hide things from the children but they really understand it,” he said. “And if we give them the full truth, they can know how to act on it.”
Eleven-year-old Jalianna Linson was part of the rally on Wednesday.
“African Americans as a group are one big community and if one of us is hurt,” she said, “all of us are hurt.”
Linson said she’s noticed the recent killings of both African Americans and police officers, and it scares her.
“It’s real hard because one day I could be walking down the street and it could happen to me,” she said.
Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland and Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly spoke at the rally.
Copeland applauded the children for making their voices heard and Kelly stressed the need for the community to be active and let law enforcement know if there are problems with any of its operations.
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