Greene County activists plan one-year memorial event for George Floyd

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May 15—Several citizens groups that formed in Greene County last year in reaction to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis are planning an anti-racism seminar and rally to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his murder, which occurred on May 25, 2020.

"We're standing against racism and social injustice and remembering George Floyd," said Denise Moore, co-founder of Sugarcreek Cares. "Don't forget George Floyd because it was wrong, it was so wrong and we need to make a change."

This demonstration and the continuation of these groups show the lasting impact the events of last summer have had on the racial justice movement, particularly in white communities.

Greene County Voices is partnering with Sugarcreek Cares, Inclusive Fairborn, Citizens for a Better Beavercreek and YS Speaking Up for Justice in Yellow Springs, all groups that formed in the last year, to hold this event.

On Saturday, May 22, the group will host a virtual seminar from 10 a.m. to noon using implicit bias training created by the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University. At 1 p.m., there will be a rally in front of the Greene County courthouse in Xenia. Speakers at the rally will include Dayton resident Bishop Jerome McCorry, founder and president of the National Congress on Faith and Social Justice, and Yellow Springs resident Bomani Moyenda, a leader of YS Speaking Up for Justice.

Anyone can register for the event online at tinyurl.com/gcracism.

"We want white people to understand that they play a huge role in dismantling systematic racism," said Kim McCarthy, founder of Greene County Voices, a Sugarcreek Twp. resident and former candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

These grassroots organizations have hundreds of involved members (most of them white) and collectively over two thousand people have liked their Facebook pages or joined their Facebook groups.

The population of Greene County is about 86% white and 7% Black while the U.S. population is about 76% white and 13% Black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some of these groups are in particularly homogeneous communities or areas of the county lacking in Black residents: Sugarcreek Twp. is over 90% white and Bellbrook is over 95% white; and Beavercreek is less than 3% Black.

At events like this one, organizers work to center the voices of people of color.

This sustained effort by the Dayton area's residents, particularly its suburban and white residents, to fight for racial justice is "totally new," said McCorry.

"It's something that is now catching on across the nation," he said. "This is really a new energy and a new effort ... and it is something that is long past due. We'd like to believe that that we've come far enough in this area and in this country that the racist acts don't continue to happen (but that is not the case)."

McCorry and organizers hope May 22nd will be more than a one-time event but a community-building moment that sparks renewed reform efforts. Involved groups are already advocating in their municipalities for law enforcement reform, the passage of anti-hate resolutions by governments, inclusion of more diverse perspectives in school curriculum and more.