'This is What Democracy Looks Like': Large Crowd Assembles for 'Black Lives Matter' March Through Summit

6802d62a70dc8ff9c8ba_f5e4eaa8d604befaf45a_b8f0562bc2a6955e998f_Screen_Shot_2016-09-25_at_7.41.58_PM.jpg
The 'Black Lives Matter' march moves past City Hall into Downtown Summit. Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
397034da4cc658fe9b6a_DSC_0285-2.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
45274aef5ce653ca53cf_DSC_0286-2.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
d76f3af867898e4bfe75_DSC_0279-3.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
d4eb12bc5995083976a4_DSC_0407.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
c7e2f429237169ddcdc2_DSC_0297.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
3081d1563a4d4feb5466_DSC_0403.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
0cdb23f24b23902701ac_DSC_0398-2.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
ff586d6238634f0568bd_DSC_0396.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
ecb006a8479c7668afff_DSC_0393.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
eff9273cee47a893bb44_DSC_0387.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
4320c143951ec2d35a0a_DSC_0381.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
627e6ee9aa06db77937f_DSC_0353.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
7a4a7ba34ba18d7e0678_DSC_0350.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
629cdc146bcc149df3a1_DSC_0338.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
f4cbd22bf6e99e955998_DSC_0321-2.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
2cbeb508405a28ac7dca_DSC_0306-4.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
ccaaff612f7f4a2c87c1_DSC_0301-2.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
240928d30dd06a0155ca_DSC_0299-4.JPG
Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
6802d62a70dc8ff9c8ba_f5e4eaa8d604befaf45a_b8f0562bc2a6955e998f_Screen_Shot_2016-09-25_at_7.41.58_PM.jpg

SUMMIT, NJ - The ongoing conversation about -- and struggle with -- the issue of race in America took to the streets of Downtown Summit as an estimated 400 - 500 people gathered for a 'Black Lives Matter' march through the Hilltop City.

The event was organized by a 20-member 'Black Lives Matter' team, led by Claudia Cohen from the Unitarian Church in Summit and the Reverend Vernon Williams of Fountain Baptist Church, and saw the group begin their journey at Christ Church, on the corner of Tulip Street and Springfield Avenue, and march down Springfield Avenue to the Unitarian Church at 4 Waldron Avenue.

Like the town they marched in, the group was diverse, featuring faces of many colors, people of all ages, and representing a variety of houses of worship. A high majority of those participating wore 'Black Lives Matter' T-Shirts.

Sign Up for E-News

Along the route, there were chants of 'Who's Street?... Our Street', 'The People United Will Never Be Defeated', and 'Show Me What Democracy Looks Like... THIS is What Democracy Looks Like'.

While the streets and sidewalks were virtually empty during the event, the group did get a round of applause from diners eating al fresco at Winberie's. Other onlookers took photos on their smartphones, while some simply stood by as the group passed. In sum, the mood was passionate but composed among those marching, with the Summit Police Department closing area streets to enable a safe and smooth path.

Reverend Emilie Boggis of the Unitarian Church, one of the leading voices that brought about the day, said that their congregation's involvement in matters of racial justice is a natural extension of previous socially-conscious initiatives, and a derivative of conversations that began within the Summit Interfaith Council.

"Our voice speaks our values - the inherent worth and dignity of every person. This movement is no different than when we took a stand to end the war in Iraq, or the efforts to assist women in Darfur refugee camps."

As to the question asked by many in the days preceding the event. 'Why hold the event in Summit?', a community with no overt or hot-button race issues, Boggis has a simple and straightforward answer.

"Why not Summit? Summit is unique, it is a diverse community with many groups and 18 houses of worship. There is an opportunity to have a conversation about race."

In April, The Unitarian congregation members voted unanimously to take a public stand to affirm that 'Black Lives Matter' after what the Church has termed "an extensive education and engagement process within the congregation and the surrounding community."

As stated on its website, 'Black Lives Matter' is a chapter-based national and international organization working for the validity of Black life. #BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin.

Unitarian Church members engaged with issues on race and privilege through the Church's Beloved Conversations curriculum, interfaith and multiracial Dialogue Circles in the Summit community, and several book discussions on the issue, including Ta’Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, and Debby Irving’s Waking Up White.

'Black Lives Matter' banners now adorn the facades of both the Unitarian and Fountain Baptist Churches.

Once the group reached the Unitarian Church, they heard myriad speakers, songs, and messages centered on a central theme -- racial justice is inherent human right, and that the journey to that aspiration still had many miles to go. Cohen, Unitarian Church member and organizer of the 'Black Lives Matter' initiative, said the goal was to "write a new chapter of our shared story."

Ellen Boylan, a Summit resident and Unitarian Church member, said, "we are all neighbors, all Americans, one human race."

Susan Hairston, a Fountain Baptist member, described herself as a "fourth, or maybe even fifth generation Summit Hilltopper." Hairston described how Summit is a microcosm of America, with "both pockets of power and privilege and powerlessness and underprivileged." Hairston went on to say that former is "not a bad thing, but that is dependent on how the power is understood, used and experienced."

The Reverend Michael J. Sanders of Fountain Baptist said that, "in the Land of The Free and Home of the Brave, something is missing," and said that the racial divide means many Americans see minorities' "desire to be treated fair as being treated as special."

Unitarian Church Reverend Robin Tanner, currently in Charlotte, NC -- the latest site of racial unrest in the country -- sent an e-mail that Boggis read. In it, she challenged all to "go beyond the banner," and turn their aspirations into action.

Prior to concluding the event, the crowd joined hands and sang We Shall Overcome, hoping the harmony of their voices serves as metaphorical inspiration for the society they all inhabit.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Summit

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_92eaadab4fea5d764092_edc2dcd4802a1c409d7c_screen_shot_2018-04-03_at_1.15.57_pm

Sun, June 24, 8:00 AM

Summit Summer Farmers Market, Summit

Summit Farmers Market

Community Calendar Food & Drink Green Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_5e177eaae57739064cd4_397f63ad2fb50392a776_29178074_2107642336134787_2638697507160326144_n

Sun, June 24, 11:00 AM

Totowa

MakerFest 2018

Summit Police Blotter

May 29, 2018

5/15 - Sean M. Reidy, 52, of Summit was arrested on a contempt of court warrant out of Summit. Mr. Reidy was able to post bail and released with a pending court date.

5/18 - At 1615 hours a report was taken for a theft from a Springfield Avenue business. The incident occurred at approximately 1031 hours when a white female entered the business and removed a blue Ramy Brook Blouse from a rack.

Bridges Outreach: Miracles in Manhattan

June 17, 2018

Bridges Outreach: Miracles in Manhattan (and elsewhere)

My good friend Joan Olszewski reached out to me the other day to tell me the Friday, June 8, Bridges Outreach run to Manhattan needed volunteers, “Let’s go,” she said.  The lunches were provided by Pimco, a dedicated corporate sponsor of Bridges, so all we needed were some bodies and the love necessary to offer food ...

Video: Point View's Petrides Looks at Media M&As, Fed's Hike Strategy

Point View Wealth Management's Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, John Petrides, live on FOX Business AM discussing M&A in the media industry and the Fed's path to four hikes in 2018:

ptview.com/medias/tv-radio

​​​​​​For more than 25 years, Point View Wealth Management, Inc. has been working with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio ...

Maximizing Your Portfolio’s Returns -- Beware the Taxman

The old adage in the investment world is that it is not what you make, but what you keep that counts.  Investors often overlook the ultimate deflator of portfolio returns – the taxman. An astute global asset allocation should be the number one priority for investors.  However, there are preferred ways to distribute this asset allocation over the spectrum of taxable and ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Video: In The Zone with Christa Anderson

A must watch for anyone considering renovations, here is a recent interview that I conducted -- on my HomeTowne TV Show called “Are You Ready for Life?” -- with Christa Anderson, City of Summit Zoning Officer, to discuss the nuances within the variance process.

I asked Christa to shed some insight into the approval process, explain why it’s necessary, and ...

Hello, Neighbors

Hi, Summit families!

My name is Betsy Stoeber and I’ve been the owner and director at the specialized learning center Brain Balance of Summit since 2011. I first encountered Brain Balance the year before we opened as a parent. My own son participated in our innovative program at the center in Norwalk, CT, to address a number of learning challenges.

Traveling there three times per week ...