Provo residents were invited to speak up, love their neighbors and check their biases at a #blacklivesmatter rally called “Hear Their Voice” on June 4 in Kiwanis Park in Provo.
Speakers included comedian Stacey Harkey, rapper James Curran (JTM), BYU football player Batchlor Johnson IV and others. The messages focused on supporting each other through faith and action, and speakers encouraged those present not to forget about the cause a few months down the line but to take their feelings to the ballot in November.
“For some of us, we inherit this battle like an heirloom that just gets passed through generation and generation, and I’m so exhausted, and I’m so tired, and I don’t think I can keep going on like this,” Harkey said in his speech, “We have to endure to the end of this battle, and that isn’t a passive act, that is an active thing.”
Besides the speeches, there were musical performances and poetry readings, all focused on the struggles of the black community and what can be done to help.
Darryl Dzapasi, one of the speakers and a BYU grad, read a poem encouraging people to remember their individual importance and reminding them, “you matter.”
BYU alumna Karmen Kodia, one of the speakers, grew up in Sweden and said in her speech that she was surprised at the racist comments she’s received living in the U.S. Kodia said the first thing people can do is to educate themselves about the situation.
“Don’t forget to speak up at the dinner table, in our classrooms, at church, amongst our friends. Because this is a life commitment, and you should commit,” Kodia said in her speech.
Kodia said one of the things that most surprised her about the event was how many people showed up. She said the event gave her hope, and she hopes it leads to a change in attitude.
“I hope that people will be more comfortable talking about race, talking about their ignorance and their privileges and understand where the black community is coming from,” Kodia said. She also said she hopes to see changes in educational systems so there’s less prejudice against the black community and more black representation.