PARKLAND, FL- Juneteenth is a holiday that is celebrated June 19th every year. Although grossly unknown, it means so much to so many in this country. It commemorates the day in which slaves were finally free in the United States of America; June 19th 1835. The state of Texas was still practicing slavery two and a half years after the emancipation proclamation of 1836.
Local resident and MSD graduate Nicolas Martin, along with a team of others, worked to organize a solidarity protest/march for Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and the many victims who have suffered the same fate. This march was for the people across the country that have suffered injustices because of the color of their skin; people whose names we will never know, stories told and untold. This march was not a statement against police or against people of other ethnicities, it was a collective statement against racism, and the racist societal systems we have in place today.
Growing up as one of the few black kids in a town like Parkland, Martin says there were many experiences that reminded him that he was different from everyone else. Whether it was from other kids in the neighborhood, unfair treatment from police or even people he thought were his friends, he experienced racism. From Martin's experience, Parkland / Coral Springs was the perfect location to do such an event.
The walk provided an opportunity to have a voice as well as educate and open the minds of people who wouldn't have experienced such a thing otherwise. The whole world supported the Parkland community during a time of need after the February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and felt appropriate that the Parkland community show support for those suffering from racism across this nation as well. According to Martin, “if my team and I didn't do it, then who would?”
The march was held on June 20th starting from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, stopping at Betti Stradling park, then Coral Springs Police Department and ending with a performance at Mullings Park. It was an eight mile round trip pilgrimage.
Over 80 people were in attendance, and the protest took a significant effort from a great team of volunteers. It was a success beyond what was expected. The crowd marched peacefully chanting “Black Lives Matter.” They were seen and their voices were heard. However, the work has only just started. Beyond hearing voices, the group stands for action needing to be taken to expel racism permanently; diversity, equality, and Black Lives Matter today.
The Solidarity Walk from Parkland to Coral Springs on Saturday, June 20, 2020, featured nearly a hundred supporters and was attended by a number of local leaders, including Parkland Chamber Chair Corlette Deveaux, City Commissioner Stacy Kagan, and speakers Nicholas Martin, Kyle Goodcharan, and Kadeem Rowe.