ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) — Protests continue across East Tennessee. The Alcoa-Blount County NAACP organized a peaceful rally to stand up to racial injustices happening across the country.
“We’re just tired.” said organizer Willa Estell
This march, like many over the past two weeks, drew several hundred. Educators, religious leaders and residents of all ages gathered as one unified voice. Dr. Keri Prigmore was one of those voices and says demonstrations like this are necessary for change.
“George Floyd’s death has started a movement like we haven’t seen since the civil rights movement and it’s time for a change.” Prigmore said.
Emily Anderson is the pastor at New Providence Presbyterian Church in Maryville and says racial justice is key to a cohesive community.
“We’ve got a lot of years of racism under our belt, 400 years of it that we’ve gotta undo over time and i think these are just really early first steps. this is what Jesus talked about. loving god and loving our neighbors and if we’re two segregated societies, we’re not actually loving one another.” Anderson said.
Demonstrators marched peacefully for more than two miles from the Martin Luther King Community Center to the Blount County Courthouse. Alcoa police escorted them the entire way.
For some, this was not only a chance to be a part of history, but also teaching moment for the younger generation.
“What I wanted to teach my children is that it’s important to take a stand. I’m going to be very honest. My children were worried, they don’t know what’s going to happen as we walk down that road, but there comes a time where you have to face danger and you have to face fear and that’s what we’re doing.” said Dr. Prigmore
Leaders reminded the demonstrators that this is just the beginning, and the activism shouldn’t stop after the protests end. A list of NAACP branches in East Tennessee can be found on the Tennessee NAACP website.