My Turn: Orange is the new Selma

  • Mike Watson Images

Published: 7/30/2021 2:34:57 PM

We have been vigiling for Black Lives Matter every Saturday at the Peace Park in Orange since George Floyd’s murder in May of last year. Since the conviction and sentencing of George Floyd’s murderer we have been receiving increasing threats, intimidation and harassment.

Two weeks ago a man stopped his truck in the middle of South Main Street to photograph us and shout “Where are your Black friends? I’m going to park and come and fix you.” He drove by several more times to shout out threats.

Last week a young man accosted us repeatedly shouting, “You’re a bunch of terrorists.” He said that he would be there all day to keep an eye on us.

We will persist in our commitment to social justice for all. However, over the past year and a half, our numbers have dwindled, while the threats toward us have increased. There is strength and safety in numbers.

Although Orange is slowly becoming more progressive, Trump won in 2016 and Biden won in 2020, it’s a slow process to bring about changed attitudes. 90% of people coming by the vigil react in a positive and supportive way; thumbs up, thank you or tooting their horns. Some give the middle finger or shout “All lives matter.”

 An older woman stopped to tell us that “I have never seen any discrimination against Blacks in my lifetime.” That’s great, if they truly believe that.

Clearly those of us that vigil are suffering trauma and backlash from these threats. We need support from others in the community to support us whenever they can and for however long. We meet every Saturday by the Peace Statue on Orange Town Park from 10-11 a.m. In our region, Orange has become the battleground for BLM and all its represents to others.

During the ’60s, many did not remain in the comfort of their home states. They traveled to Little Rock and Selma where racism was at its worst. We need help in Orange because here we see racism at its worst.

We have received support from the Orange Police, Racial Justice Rising and Traprock Peace Center, but we need more. Please support us with your presence from 10 to 11 every Saturday morning in Orange.

Connie Pike is a psychotherapist and yoga teacher. Mike Magee is a high school teacher.

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