Tuesday, October 4, 2022

‘Little people, big change’: Children with their parents gather to protest in Williamsburg

Children brought their own handmade signs. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)
Children brought their own handmade signs. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)

Clenched little fists.

That sight dominated the landscape as children along with their parents gathered to protest in Williamsburg Wednesday.

Since the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck, the local grassroots organization Williamsburg Action has held nightly protests for people to come out and express their support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Wednesday, the average age of protesters shifted as families brought their children to the Little Ones with Big Voices protest at Kidsburg. With people playing basketball in the background, families stood on the corner of Monticello Avenue and News Road holding signs for passersby to see.

The families came out with water bottles, hand-made signs and snacks to make their children’s voices heard.

Children of all races and ages, from babies to young teens, came out to support the movement with encouragement from their families. Parents helped their children to hold up signs just as large as their bodies and encouraged them to participate in chants. 

Felicia Griffin brought her 5-year-old son, Hiawatha Griffin, to the protest so he could hold up his own sign and understand that he can be part of a change in America.

Hiawatha’s sign, which he made himself, read “No Justice, No Peace” on one side and “Being Black Does Not Mean Attack,” on the other. 

Felicia Griffin asked her son if it was right to attack someone because of the color of their skin.

“No,” he replied confidently.

“That’s right,” his mother said.

As children fanned each other with their signs in the heat of the afternoon, parents coached their children in age-appropriate chants, meaning no curse words, to the sound of honking horns from motorists passing by.

“Little people, big change,” one mother chanted with her son through their face coverings.

“America, keep us safe,” others shouted, holding their signs up high.

LaShay Freeman, chairwoman of Williamsburg Action, went before the group of about 100 protesters and spoke words of encouragement and inspiration. Freeman said while this is the first children’s protest, the goal is to have many more over the next few months. 

“The younger they start understanding race relations and that there’s something wrong in this country, the more time they can put in in their lifetime to fix it,” she said.

She said she didn’t intend to take such a large role in the organization originally, but as a pregnant black woman she felt it was important to make a change for the next generation.

“This is their America, we’re fighting for their rights,” she said. “We’re leaving this America to them and their voice has to be heard… We can’t leave this America, how it is now, to these babies. They don’t deserve it.”

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Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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