ITHACA, N.Y. –– Sunday afternoon a crowd over 100 strong marched from the Greater Ithaca Activities Center to the Bernie Milton Pavilion, marking the third week of racial justice rallies in Ithaca.
Protests were sparked nationwide last month by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. In Ithaca, there have been several rallies, marches and protests that have drawn massive crowds to march and hear speakers from the black community.
This week’s action was meant to specifically honor black men in the community, and bring the voices of an older generation to the forefront.
“For the first time I’ve seen my older brothers out here,” 32-year-old Ithaca native Jordan Clemons said. Clemons in past weeks has taken a leadership role in many of the protests and rallies –– acting as emcee at several events over the last three weeks.
One of those older men that took the mic was Ithacan Harry Smith, who applauded local young people for taking charge organizing and speaking out for justice.
“The sad thing is it took the god damn kids to come out here and do it…the youth, the young men and women because they’ve seen what’s happening and they’re like ‘you’re not doing that to us.’ If we don’t step up for them, what are we showing them? The same thing y’all showed us growing up.”
There were also intergenerational speeches –– 37 year-old Rahmel Mack, who has been heavily involved leading youth programming at GIAC and his father both spoke on Sunday.
Rahmel urged the crowd to stay energized and keep the movement going.
“Don’t let this be a trending topic,” he said. “Our pain, our outrage is not for Facebook. Black lives mattered yesterday, matter today and will matter tomorrow…don’t just change here, change when you leave here.”
Rahmel’s father, Mack Sr., spoke about civil unrest and the fight for racial justice he witnessed in the 1960s.
“This is my second time around seeing this crap,” he said. “I had to sit with my mother and father and watch Dr. King’s funeral on TV and I felt something, and now I’m seeing it. I get to witness the pain they were feeling back then.”
The event at the Bernie Milton Pavilion is set to be recurring. The next one will take place Sunday, June 21 at 2 p.m. on the Commons.