“We shall overcome, someday”, echoed through the streets of Fairmont, Sunday afternoon, as many gathered for the Justice with Peace March.
Peaceful protesters gathered at Trinity United Methodist Church, which is the oldest African American Church in Fairmont. Clergy and community members then marched to the Marion County Courthouse for a time of brief speeches, prayers, and remarks about racism. Protesters marched with signs and many were linked together, arm-to-arm, as a way to show their solidarity for the cause of justice.
“We gather for unity in our community,” said Rev. Brad Bennett, who is the pastor of Trinity and Central UMC.
The Justice with Peace March came together through a collaborative work of area clergy. On June 4, Pastor Mike Little, of Good Hope Baptist Church, and Rev. Dr. Mark Staples, of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, gathered church leaders in Fairmont to meet with young protest leaders.
The demonstration focused on protesting the recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 and on police brutality. The protest also emphasized the importance of addressing racism, its existence in our nation, state, and in Fairmont, and on naming the changes that are needed.
Organizers desired a non-violent stand for peace and justice in the community.
“I’m grateful that we have not experienced, like other cities, burning and rioting, so that we can sit down at the table like brothers and sisters,” Staples said.
Throughout the march, protesters often spoke on Micah 6:8. It says, “He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.”
One individual who participated in the protests reflected upon the diversity of races represented in the protests. They said, “if you want to know what heaven looks like, look around.”
Following the march, all in attendance were reminded how though the march was over the holy work of justice had just begun.
Sarah Allen is pastor of Middlebourne UMC, a provisional Elder in the West Virginia Conference and a member of the Northern District Communications Team.