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Intimate Morgantown Black Lives Matter protest fosters important discussions

It was a small group that gathered Thursday afternoon under overcast skies on the steps of the Morgantown City Public Safety Building, but not even the threat of rain could deter the dozen or so individuals from showing up to take what action they could against systemic racism.

“We’re going into three weeks of this happening at this point, just the fact that anyone is willing to come out is incredible,” said organizer Samm Norris, 24. “And when you have these smaller turnouts, you actually get more conversations done.”

Thursday’s modest gathering was a decidedly more intimate affair from prior actions in Morgantown, which at their height have drawn crowds of hundreds of people to march through the streets.

“It doesn’t matter how big the protest or how small the protest, because how you change the world is one mind, one heart at a time,” said Marcus Jones, 27. “So no matter how big or how small, if someone takes away new knowledge or new information from a protest, then it’s a successful protest.”

“I’ve been wanting to join protests since I’ve been hearing about it,” said Eric Seaborn, 27. Seaborn said he walked away feeling, “very educated. It felt good to be out here.”

The conversations held over the roar of traffic on Spruce Street and Walnut Street, while still centered around race, tended toward topics of class and income inequality as well.

“If we really want change, we have to look at the root of the problem,” Jones said. “Racism and police brutality are just one branch on a tree that’s bound to fall.”

“Wealth inequality is the greatest threat that we all face,” Norris said. “When we’re fighting against inequality, we’re fighting against all inequalities.”

Organizers are hoping to see larger turnouts for today’s Juneteenth celebrations set for from 1:30-8:30 p.m. on the Mountainlair green at West Virginia University.

“Juneteenth marks the anniversary of when the final slaves were freed from Texas following the Civil War,” Norris said. “It’s like Black Liberation Day for Americans.”

The celebration is scheduled to continue Saturday in the same location.

“It’s not just a celebration for black people,” Norris said. “It’s a celebration for everyone that’s anti-racist, for everyone that thought slavery was wrong, for everyone that’s working towards freedom, that’s working towards equality. That’s why everyone’s welcome at the Juneteenth cookout.”

The action will continue through the weekend, as a sit-in at Westover City Park is planned for Sunday.

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