On a beautiful warm sunny August day, the anniversary of the day that Micheal Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, MO, a group of over two hundred people gathered in one of the most politically, socially, and religiously conservatives areas of the south to say with one voice that black lives matter. They stood together against racism and in support of accountability for the police in particular and for the justice system as a whole.
Once gathered and ready with their anti racist, pro love for all signs, they marched down one of the main streets in Johnson City. Their over two hundred strong voices chanted for peace, justice, and love. Once they reached downtown with their message they marched on to Founder's Park and gathered to hear several speakers talk about their life experiences and how to dismantle racism. It was a positive, energetic inclusive event.
Despite fear-mongering in the local print media, most notably in the pages of the right leaning Johnson City Press, there was little opposition to the march. Days before the march the Press had breathlessly warned that white supremacist groups would counter demonstrate and perhaps clash with the black lives matter folks. Turns out this was nonsense. Only token opposition in the form of three lonely misguided under educated Confederate flag waving troglodytes showed up to try to derail the march with their message of hate. After being roundly mocked, they succeeded in making one young woman cry and satisfied with that 'victory' they turned tail and ran, leaving the rest of the marchers to celebrate justice, love, and peace.
The overwhelming message of the rally was a call for an end to institutional racism, for police accountability, and the need for true bottom up social movements to bring the kind of positive change to the east Tennessee region that would hopefully spread to the USA as a whole.
It was a historic march and a huge step forward for human rights, equality, and togetherness in the mountain south.