These past few weeks have seen actions across the United States and the world in support of The Movement for Black Lives. Some of you may have seen and/or participated in local actions that have taken place right here in Washington and Greene Counties. This past weekend CCJ worked with community leaders to join the SixNineteen Movement for Black Lives Call to Action.
On Friday, June 19th, CCJ supported local black leaders who organized a panel to discuss black issues with local Legislators at the Lemoyne Center. Legislators including Representatives Pam Snyder, Jason Ortitay, and Tim O’Neal and Senator Camera Bartolotta were all in attendance. Representative Bud Cook and Congressman Guy Reschenthaler did not respond to the invitation. Watch the Livestream below or scroll down for a summary.
CCJ team member Heaven Sensky was the moderator of the event, and local organizers included Ahmad Morris-Walker, A’Shon Burgess, Zhiere Patmon, Faith McClendon, Kierra King, Brianna King, and Dara Thomas. The organizers asked the panel questions focused on Criminal Justice Reform, Health Care Access, Labor and Workers Rights, Policing Reform, and Education from the perspective of the black community. Organizers received a verbal commitment from the panel of legislators in support of legislation that would ban no-knock warrants and neck restraints in Pennsylvania, mandated access to voter registration in High Schools, and the inclusion of mandated black history curriculum into Pennsylvania schools. CCJ is looking forward to supporting local leaders in holding elected officials accountable to addressing these issues.
Greene County Action
Also on Friday (Juneteeth), we worked with residents from Greene County to organize a picket in front of the Courthouse in Waynesburg, PA. About 60 residents local to Greene County came out in support of the Movement for Black Lives and about 30 folks showed up and held counter-protests as well. Tensions between the two sides were quite evident and there were some heated verbal exchanges that occurred, but thankfully both sides stayed peaceful in their protest. Folks held signs proclaiming their stance as people drove through the busiest street in Greene County during rush hour. Voter registration was also available on site. Our intention in setting up this protest in a largely rural and white town was to help spark the necessary conversations that will help us move forward as a society and model how white folks can stand in solidarity during these times.
Washington County Action
Wrapping up the local events, CCJ also supported a beautiful Juneteenth action in Canonsburg on June 20th that featured local black voices highlighting local issues rooted in racism from disparities in education, to voting access, criminal justice, and safety. The event was kicked off by Canon McMillan Alumna Brianna King, who sang the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. The performance was followed by an invocation prayer by Pastor Anita of Mt. Olive Church of Canonsburg, and 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence in memory of George Floyd. Following several powerful speeches, the crowd was led on a march through the town of Canonsburg that featured a stop at The Canon McMillan School District Office where former students of the school district shared their experiences of racism, which was mostly not addressed, that occurred while they attended the school. Over 350 people attended the event, and folks were able to register to vote on-site.
CCJ looks forward to supporting local organizers in developing a local Black Lives Matter Chapter and in working together to pursue a mass voter education campaign through this year and beyond.