Today in Corby hundreds gathered in James Ashworth VC Square outside the Corby Cube in Northamptonshire to attend what was a peaceful and powerful “Black Lives Matter” protest.
It was a family affair, with many people angry at the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police in Minnesota in the US, chanting “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter” or the dying words of George Floyd “I can’t breathe” across Corby town. They turned out to show their support and the worldwide call for equality and an end of the disproportionate number of “stop and search”of black people in the UK.
The crowd assembled were able to listen to five speakers including from Amal ‘Mel’ Abshir, Richard Sharman, his mother Denise Sharman (who has lived in Corby for 35 years originally coming to the UK from Nigeria), Esther Omauli, and Terry who spoke of growing up in Corby as a man of mixed Puerto Rican and Scottish heritage speak of isolation and non-inclusion at times and his overcoming prejudice and fight for more equality.
Crowds cheered as the speakers spoke of the need for turning back hatred and endemic racism that pervades society even at a local level in Corby. People spoke of their experiences in the local Corby area, with Mel saying that it can be direct or indirect racism “you’re told that you don’t fit the professional ‘look’ that the company seeks for a front desk member of staff – Thank you Best Western Hotels.”
Others spoke of other sinister intimidation by their local neighbours they’d encountered living in Corby – such as being called “N****r” or “Black B*****d” and one lady; Esther Omauli, spoke of her child being in tears over the white children’s name calling which she said had been influenced by their parents and not their peers.
Eight minutes of silence was observed with many holding their Black Lives Matters placards, or pictures of George Floyd or other black people who have lost their lives at the hands of extremists or worse still, whilst detained by the police.
There was a call for reform of not only the police but also all authorities, to be made accountable for the systematic and endemic racism that pervades national institutions and reforming the Police in order to provide a service that allows Black; Asian and Chinese people to work in their services without experiencing direct or indirect racism or discrimination.
An end of glorifying national pride without giving a voice and history to those black slaves who helped build such empires, and a the slave trade, and realisation that the power and wealth generated from the Britain’s trade of commodities (such as diamonds, gold, sugar and ultimately human lives) was ultimately at a detrimental cost to Africa, and it’s people.
Summer Ogden-Friel, aged 8 years of age, was one of the last voices to be heard. She called for a world to grow up united no matter what our colour and wondering why discrimination exists over skin colour “I do not think it is acceptable for people to be treated differently just because their skins a different colour” she said “it’s not like you get to pick what colour your skin is, you’re just born that way” and continued that people “have a right to a world that keeps you safe, and people should accept you for what your personality and not for the colour of your skin”