Three peaceful protests filled Fountain Park in support of Black Lives Matter this weekend; each march passed the last in attendance as the Kent County community came together in anger, fear, strength, and solidarity to fight for Black lives.
“From all of my life here, we have all dealt with some sort of racism here,” said Horold Somerville, a Chestertown native and an organizer of Friday’s prayer walk. “I’ve never experienced this in Chestertown, we all come together — African Americans, Caucasians, everybody to come together. That was a real blessing.”
The prayer walk followed a meeting last Tuesday morning when a group of people including Somerville met at Fountain Park to form a prayer group.
“We want to meet here every or every other Tuesday at eight in the morning and just pray.” Somerville said.
On Friday evening, the walk centered on faith, as pastors from all over the community joined together to lead a prayer walk through Calvert Heights and back to Fountain Park.
“All lives do matter, but at this point in time we’re talking about Black lives in particular. Other issues we’ll get to when it becomes an issue.” said Autumn Somerville, a certified nursing assistant, and daughter of Harold Somerville. “If he’s walking, I’m walking.”
Sunday morning began with a rally, led by the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black. Nijah Black, Anton Black’s niece, explained identifying Black’s body after he has been killed.
“Anybody that knew Anton knows that he was a good boy,” Nijah Black said. “He did everything for everybody. He has a daughter that he never even got to meet. My family needs all the support that we can get to have everybody come together. This is somebody from our hometown. This happened in 2018, and it’s 2020 and we’re still fighting for justice.”
Anton Black was a Kent County local, a black man who was killed at the hands of police officer Thomas Webster on September 15, 2018 at the age of 19 in Greensboro, Maryland.
Among those who spoke at the park on Sunday morning were Anton Black’s mother and father, his sister Monique Sorrell, and other family members, close friends, and leaders of the Coalition.
In the video below Monique Sorrell speaks of her brother and the need for change
Sunday afternoon, even more of Chestertown’s community marched from the Dixon building to Fountain Park in song. Once they arrived at the park, the group took a moment of silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds in solitude with George Floyd, a black man who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis.
Bishop Ronald T. Fisher led with a speech about coming together in unity amongst the churches in Kent County to talk about racism in the community.
“I am looking at the problem and the solution,” Bishop Fisher said.
Mayor Chris Cerino quoted Muhammad Ali’s words, “Me. We.” and encouraged the people at the protest to vote in the national election and their respective local elections.
Kent County NAACP President Charles Tilghman asked people from the crowd to come to the microphone and share their words.
Lisa Aisha Robinson,18, said “I just really don’t want to be out here for another person. For my brother, for my friend — I just want it to stop.”
Raven Bishop called to white allies asking them to call out racism.
“To not speak in this space is silence, and white silence is compliance in this problem that we’ve carried for so long in this nation,” she said. “Compliance makes us complicit in violence.”
The afternoon was closed with words from Bishop Robert M. Pritchett thanking everyone for participating in the movement.
“We are in unity,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”
Susie Fordi is a Chestertown local and college student in New York City. As a journalism major, she works for her school paper The New School Free Press. Typically, she’s a summer camp counselor at Camp Tockwogh, but this year you’ll see her riding her bike around town with a camera and notebook. She is the Summer 2020 Kent Pilot Journalism Fellow and contributes to journalistic photography, writing, audio, and expanding our social media.