The Birth of a Movement
Between 75-100 people came out to march in Elk Grove on Martin Luther King Day to take a stand against racism in the community of Elk Grove. Organized by Sonia Lewis, the Leader of the Black Lives Matter Movement Sacramento, and Sharie Wilson, owner of DreamGirls Fine Hair Imports & Salon, the march served as a call to action and a demand for change. Most noteworthy, is the fact that this event was organized in 3 days time.
Sharie Wilson is no stranger to racism. She is the owner of DreamGirls Fine Hair Imports & Salon, the salon that received a racist note that the Elk Grove Police Department has determined is a hate crime. Sharie is frustrated that some people in the Elk Grove Community still have the audacity to circulate rumors, such as saying she made everything up herself.
Sharie is quick to point out that it’s not just her. The recent video Snapchat of a Pleasant Grove High School Student making racist statements and the recent statements from Rachael Francois who detailed racist abuse and incidents also from Pleasant Grove High School, have caused many racial tensions to rise to the surface. The Elk Grove Unified School District has confirmed that a noose was thrown into a classroom at Pleasant Grove High School. Consequently, the City of Elk Grove is divided over how to respond to recent events.
A recent Elk Grove City Council Meeting revealed the results of a report by the American Leadership Forum. ALF led the discussion at 3 Town Hall Meetings on racism.
The March Against Racism started at the Elk Grove Library and ended at DreamGirls Fine Hair Imports & Salon. Every single marcher I talked to emphasized that this march wasn’t just about a note at a salon. They all seemed to signify that all the racist incidents in Elk Grove culminated into this march. As I walked with the crowd, I realized that many people marching had experienced racism themselves very recently, myself included.
Video below by Amar Shergill
People were fired up and the atmosphere was electric. I wasn’t just imagining it. I was a part of it. I felt like I was doing something as a responsible member of a diverse community. Marchers brought their hopes and demands for change. They wanted to heal in a positive way. Some brought their anger and their frustration. But I saw no violence or aggressive behavior. I saw a willingness to educate and communicate. And as a citizen of Elk Grove, I have some hope that maybe we can change our community for the better.
It is important to note that this March Against Racism organized by Sharie Wilson and Sonia Lewis was peaceful and the Elk Grove Police Department was present to ensure everyone’s safety.
Communicating With Love
When the crowd got to DreamGirls Fine Hair Imports Sonia Lewis of Black Lives Matter Sacramento spoke. She was followed by Pastor Les Simmons of South Sacramento Christian Center and Sharie Wilson of DreamGirls Fine Hair Imports & Salon. Superintendent of Elk Grove Unified School District Christopher Hoffman also spoke in support. He emphasized that change was beginning in Elk Grove schools.
Sharie knows that many people, the very same people with prejudiced views who should have attended the Town Hall Meetings but didn’t, will not listen to her. However, she is determined to move forward and communicate with forgiveness and love. She will talk to people, one person at a time.
“It’s about love everyone. That’s at the end of the day. And we have everybody on the sidelines that’s watching from a distance. For some reason they don’t want to set foot over here. But that’s okay. We’re going to show them that we are civilized, that we are godly people, and that we have love in our hearts and we can’t hurt you. We can’t hurt you. So, you’re gonna want to join us one day. Join us! Don’t stand on the sidelines. Join us!”
-Sharie Wilson of DreamGirls Fine Hair Imports & Salon
Notable people who attended this march included Orlando Fuentes, Consumnes CSD Director, Sonia Lewis, Leader of Black Lives Matter Sacramento, Christopher Hoffman, Superintendent of Elk Grove Unified School District, Xanthi Pinkerton, Spokeswoman of the Elk Grove Unified School District, Loreen Pryor, President of the Black Youth Leadership Project, Pastor Les Simmons, of South Sacramento Christian Center, and Tracie Stafford, Elk Grove mayoral candidate.
Organizers of the march already have plans in place to attend an Elk Grove Unified School District Board Meeting on January 16. There are several meetings this week that will follow up the March Against Racism on Martin Luther King Day. In conclusion, it is clear that we will be seeing a lot of action in the near future in this new movement standing up against racism in the City of Elk Grove.