Following the death of George Floyd and the nationwide and local Black Lives Matter protests, we asked several members of our Harrisburg community if they would like to share their personal stories.
At any given moment, while sleeping in the privacy of my own home, like Breonna Taylor, while failing to signal a lane change while driving, like Sandra Bland, or while walking down a Chicago street, like Frankie Ann Perkins, I could become the next hashtag #SayHerName.
Black lives matter ALL WAYS and ALWAYS. Everyone has a critical role to play. We must put our energy behind efforts that will make an immediate impact within the City of Harrisburg. Here are a few ways that will yield immediate results.
Vote. Elect candidates whose values align with your own. Politics are the heart of the local community. Every day, you are impacted by political decisions, decisions related to access to quality healthcare, education, childcare, housing and jobs. Be a part of the solutions to ensure your basic needs are fulfilled. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.
Complete the Census. Census participation will provide federal funding for public transit, early childhood education, school lunches, senior housing and public safety programs. By completing the census, the City of Harrisburg can receive federal funding for programs supporting our must vulnerable residents—our senior citizens and children over the next decade.
Actively engage in City Council meetings. City Council meetings are held every Tuesday. You have an opportunity to participate in the meeting by offering public comment on a bill or resolution on the meeting agenda. You may also offer public comment on any other matter of interest within the city. Public comments become a part of the formal meeting record. Hold us, your local elected officials accountable.
Progress requires effort. The Black Lives Matter protests are a step toward achieving progress. The protests successfully engaged the youth, the old, Black, Brown and white people to march for a cause greater than themselves. While some are marching in the streets, others are raising their voices to achieve progress by engaging their elected officials through phone calls and e-mails. Know that all efforts are seen and heard.
Many of our non-Black colleagues are interested in continuing to make a difference beyond the protests. Our colleagues have been strong allies, showing up and supporting Black and Brown people. We need accomplices. Accomplices will assist in dismantling the oppressive structures impeding the progress of the Black and Brown marginalized communities without fear of consequences. No progress will be made until those with perceived power will recognize our value in all spaces we occupy. We bring a perspective that must be at every table to truly effectuate change. Be brave, become an accomplice. Break down barriers. Change the board rooms, workplaces; include us wherever decisions are made. Equality should be everyone’s fight.
Black lives matter ALL WAYS and ALWAYS. Every day, Black men and women have an influence on our lives. The traffic light, mailbox, dustpan, clock, almanac and ironing board are just a few inventions that were developed by brilliant Black men and women. Let’s not forget the Black urban planner who surveyed the land off of the Potomac River that would become our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
Viola Davis recently shared a post that resonated with me. Viola stated, “A revolution has many lanes—be kind to yourself and to others who are traveling in the same direction.” Our tactics may have us in different lanes, but know we are traveling in the same direction. Let’s improve our city together for future generations to thrive and prosper. Say Her Name, Say Their Names, Black Lives Matter ALL WAYS and ALWAYS.
Danielle Bowers is a member of Harrisburg City Council.