[Posted October 29, 2020]
A Gabriel Park “Rally for Change” was held in the northeast corner of the park beginning at 5:00pm on Wednesday, October 28, attracting about 100 people of diverse ages from various racial and ethnic groups. It was sponsored by the Wilson High School Community Equity Council.
The rally featured speakers from Rose City Justice, a local social justice advocacy group, as well as musical performances.
Bobbi MacKenzie, a young Black singer and actress from SW Portland, shared her experiences of racism growing up in SW Portland and the effects those events have had on her.
“If you hear or see something that isn’t right, speak up,” MacKenzie urged the gathering.
Speakers from Rose City Justice identified ways for the SW Community to help the movement for equity and combat racism, urging the white community to teach their children to not be racist, to donate to social justice causes, and to be involved in the movement for change. Keith Jones, Community Outreach Director at Rose City Justice, suggested that SW families pick books about Black or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) lives to read with their children to help them learn about people with different experiences.
The website for Rose City Justice lists policy demands for local government, including reduction in local law enforcement funding and investment in health, safety, and education for Black and other people of color in Portland. The rally, however, focussed instead on ways for the SW Community to be engaged in the movement for change.
Wilson parent and member of the Equity Council Sandy Ragnetti told the crowd the mission of the Council is to support all Wilson cluster schools and ensure they have resources to make change possible. She invited the community to get involved with the Community Equity Council.
Other remarks indicated that some scheduled speakers had declined to attend at the last minute because of concerns that event organizers are white. The MC of the event explained that those participating felt that it is appropriate and necessary for the white community to take action against racism.
Following the rally, many attendees participated in a march that followed a route partway around Gabriel Park.
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