Mainline Black Lives Matter March in Devon and Berwyn Led By Conestoga Graduates
On Thursday, June 4, 2020, the people of the Main Line took to the streets to peacefully protest the nationwide violence committed by police against the black community. The protest, organized by current and former members of the African American Student Union (AASU) from Conestoga High School, had over a thousand in attendance.
The march began at Wayne Train Station at 11 AM and followed Lancaster Avenue all the way to Paoli Train Station where a crowd gathered to sit and listen to speeches. At each train stop along the roughly 5.5 mile route were rest stops where the protesters had access to food and water and a few minutes to stop and rest. Participants also were told to wear masks and to limit physical contact.
The march itself had an electric energy to it, with more and more people joining at each train station, most carrying signs with phrases like “Black Lives Matter”, “Justice for George Floyd”, and “I Can’t Breathe”. Most participants were wearing black and chanting with the most popular chant being “No Justice, No Peace”. Even the cars driving by were honking and saluting the protesters (either waving or raising their fists).
Once the marchers reached the Paoli Train Station, protesters were given a chance to sit and rest and drink/eat something before the speeches began. Conestoga High School’s AASU members, past and present, were given a chance to come to the front and share their experiences within the Mainline community as well as their thoughts and feelings about the march itself.
The speeches were filled with hope, hope that things could get better and hope that the protests would change minds and bring relief. Many members shared their experiences and recounted stories of the racism they had faced simply living day-to-day here and the pain they felt both from the actions. and the reactions of the people around them.
For me, the protest was the next step to try and remedy the institutional racism in our country and all the pain that it has caused. Yet there are far more steps to take and it is important to continue paying attention to this issue going forward. This march gave me hope that we as a community have the ability and desire to do better, the number of people who showed up is encouraging.
Moving forward will require sustained willpower and, for my fellow white people, a willingness to listen and a drive to critically examine our actions and prejudices and to improve ourselves. This protest was an incredible event, but there is more work to be done and it is work worth doing.
Written by Katie Chuss, Student Member of the Conestoga Young Democrats Club