What Destiny Richardson and Destiny Hurd expressed, loud and clear, was the frustration and hurt that comes with living while black in America.
Standing in the middle of Ogden Avenue near Maple Avenue in Brookfield at 6 p.m. on June 11 — surrounded by some 200 people who’d marched about a mile from LaGrange and chanted for an end to police brutality, for justice and for white America to understand “being black shouldn’t be a crime” – the two women detailed the slights, large and small, and the hypocrisy of white allies who cultivate no friends of color or even bring them round to their homes, and demanded to stand on equal footing.
“Every day there is someone facing a statistic or someone facing a stereotype,” said Richardson, a LaGrange resident. “Someone being followed around in a store. There is someone being judged by their complexion, their size and their age. There is someone who is hurt, maybe even killed by the act of hatred. This has got to stop.”
It was the third, and most high-profile, demonstration in Brookfield in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who suffocated as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while taking Floyd into custody on suspicion that he’d passed a counterfeit $20 bill.
The roughly hour-long protest march stepped off at 7th and Harris avenues in LaGrange and proceeded from there – stopping for nine minutes as marchers knelt in silent protest in memory of Floyd – down Eberly Avenue and then east down Ogden Avenue, which police closed to traffic to ensure the marchers’ safety.
Small groups of people, in twos and threes, along with the LaGrange and Brookfield police officers who lined the route, dotted Ogden Avenue to witness the march to Maple Avenue and then hear Richardson and Hurd speak.
Hurd, a LaGrange resident and 2020 graduate of Southern Illinois University, said the march and the countless others like it in the past two weeks were not only about George Floyd.
“He wasn’t someone beloved in our community that everybody knew,” Hurd said. “But he represented what a lot of us fear for our own families and friends. His death was just a drop of water in an already filled bucket of rage that we as black Americans feel every time we see a senseless killing of one of our own by the hands of the people who are supposed to be protecting us.”
Hurd spoke of the stain of slavery that not only subjugated Africans in this country to 240 years of being considered less than fully human, and how that institution has deprived her of the opportunity to trace her ancestry back across the generations.
She spoke of her grandmother and a friend founding the beloved LaGrange Pet Parade only to have the idea coopted and taken from them, of being denied a summer job because of the color of her skin. Hurd reminded fellow marchers and onlookers that the civil rights battles of the 1960s were taking place in their parents’ lifetimes.
“The times of civil unrest that we have learned about in history books through our education was not that long ago,” Hurd said, adding, “Hold your friends accountable. … For every lost friend there’s a person of color who will gladly take you in.”
Richardson also touched upon the fight for civil rights in the 1960s, and called upon white allies to continue to speak up and demand the kind of change they were chanting for.
“We are not your enemy,” Richardson said. “Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.'”