The power of protests


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” after being arrested for peacefully protesting during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963. This quote can be applied to the current growing issue of racism and police brutality in our country. Black people around the country, and even at LM face injustices, big and small, every day. This inequity is purely awful and must be stopped. A few months ago, a man named George Floyd was cruelly suffocated by a police officer. The scene was caught on video and it sparked protests around the globe, including those about racism and police brutality, as well as those about other social justice issues in the USA and the entire world. Here on the Main Line, I’ve been to a few protests, the most recent being August 30 when LM students marched from Bala Cynwyd to Overbrook High School in Philadelphia to peacefully protest the unfair discrepancy between LMSD and Philadelphia School District. I found these protests to be beneficial because they were both educational and emotionally powerful.

I found the protests to be beneficial because they were very educational for me. Before I attended the protests, I never put a lot of thought into certain aspects of inequality. I always knew there was inequality between the LMSD and the Philadelphia School District, but I never realized just how vast the difference was. The August 30 protest against the educational disparities here in the Philadelphia suburbs had the biggest impact on me. At the protest, we listened to speeches at a local park in Bala Cynwyd, then marched from Bala Cynwyd to Overbrook High School to listen to more speeches. During those speeches, we learned about the extremely large inequalities between LM and Overbrook High School. Despite being separated by only a few miles, the two schools are incredibly different. At LM, each student is provided with a brand-new Macbook, while at Overbrook, a classroom with anywhere from twenty to thirty kids would be given around eight iPads to share in school. At Overbrook, the athletic facilities do not even compare to the plethora at LM. At Overbrook, teachers float in and out, while at LM, the jobs are much more stable. Before this protest, I knew there was a divide between the districts but I never paid attention to these types of details. These speeches educated me about inequalities that I never knew were so severe. The first step towards change is education, and going to protests helped me in that manner.

Protests have also completely changed my emotional outlook on racism. Throughout the protests, we heard many speeches, some of which made me feel angry, and even guilty. I thought to myself, why didn’t I know any of this before? More importantly, as I heard each speech, I was also thinking, why isn’t more being done to fix these problems? Another emotion that took control of me during these protests was passion. As we marched through LM and into Philly, everyone was screaming anti-racist chants in unison. Being a part of that, a movement much bigger than myself, took me to another level of passion for the cause. It made me want to donate, spread awareness, and do everything in my power to bolster the movement and permanently end racism.

Participating in protests was thoroughly helpful to me and would be useful for many others. If you are debating attending one, think about it from this angle: protests are a free way to educate yourself about a large number of racial issues, and at the same time become a part of something much bigger than yourself. They allow us to come together as a community and fight for what we believe. They show the community that we are not okay with the inequalities in our town. Am I saying that one protest will solve every racial problem in our country? No. Change happens slowly and takes years. However, change begins with each person becoming educated, recognizing or finding a new outlook on the problem, and developing a passion for that problem to go away. Since participating in protests on the Main Line brought me those three things, it is my belief that going to protests is beneficial and effective. Finally, I urge everyone reading this article to get involved in the BLM movement. Even if it’s just by doing something small, it’s better than doing nothing at all!

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