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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

White Supporters of Black Lives Matter at Rosa Parks

Mariano Avila

It’s about lunch time in down town Grand Rapids. Beneath the Rosa Parks monument, about 20 people, all white, quietly hold up signs that read Black Lives Matter. The person behind the demonstration is Reverend Colleen Squires from All Souls Church.

“I think the role for us is to educate within our own circles and to advocate and be willing to not be silent within our white circles as well as when we are in the greater population.”

Squires says that given the political climate in the country, this conversation is an important one for her white congregants to engage in.

“People need to be reminded that black lives matter just as much, and it’s just important that people show support, so that’s why I’m here.”

That’s Amanda Hays a member at All Souls, she identifies as European American and says it’s not that white lives don’t matter, but that there is already a larger focus on white lives. 

“Because I don’t think it’s good for anyone when we tend to value people of one ethnicity over people of another ethnicity.”

The first Wednesday of every month, Rev. Squires hits the streets with her team and her signs. But that team now includes congregants from Fountain Street Church, Plymouth United, and Westminster Presbyterian. Squires says they’ve joined in as white allies, not as spokespeople for Black Lives Matter. 

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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