By Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas, M.Ed. | Guest Blogger AC JosepH Media
On Monday, June 1, 1,000 people filled a designated area in James Atkinson Park in Sewell, located in Gloucester County for what was called “Gloucester County NAACP Candlelight Vigil” in memory of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man who died in the hands of police in Minneapolis, and other black men who suffered the same fate in cities and towns across our nation.
Folks of diverse ethnicities, races, genders, and ages traveled from far and near to participate in this historic event. Many arrived early to secure a good parking spot near the stage and those who arrived later were met with a long line of cars pulling into the park.
The event was hastily organized at the initiative of Loretta Winters, the charismatic long-time serving president of the Gloucester County NAACP, which managed to mobilize the support of numerous government entities, including police, public schools, mayors, also faith-based leaders, school and college students, civil rights groups, sensible gun control groups, like Moms Demand Action, National Homicide Justice Alliance, and other individuals and groups of good conscious.
That event was testimony to the solidarity that important sectors among New Jerseyans can offer to the effort for police accountability and racial hatred that grips our nation today if there is an organization that stimulates and mobilizes them. That task was performed by the Gloucester County NAACP, which has cemented a strong working relationship in practically all communities where people of color live.
The leadership of the Gloucester County NAACP maintains close relations with public officials, businesses, labor, community associations, prosecutors, local police chiefs and sheriff department in the county, representatives of which participated in the success of the many are calling a historic show of unity in Gloucester County The massive activity and the participation of figures should force the people of New Jersey to take note of the claims of those who are fighting for citizen-initiated police reform, from the bottom up.
The Gloucester County event serves as a symbol of what is possible when you believe that we can change America for the better. As an African-American teacher in high school would often say, “We as a people can accomplish much when we stop looking at all the reasons why something can’t be done, and start focusing on ways it can be done!”
In addition to supporting the police accountability struggle, the James Atkinson Park NAACP Candlelight Vigil serves as a platform to demand civil rights input into the review of police practices and ways to change them to make them fair and just for all the people, regardless the color of their skins, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, physical and mental ability and other.
So, here are a few things I want readers to know for sure – don’t be afraid, all you have to know is who you are and what contrition you want to make to eradicate police misconduct and brutality, and don’t be worry about failure, it comes with territory Just as important as the successes of your actions.
When you participate in social justice issues discouragement will happen often, but get right back in a positive mood in a hurry, just as quickly as you can. We need all hands on deck to take back an America; Black people build with our free labor. You got to contact your county NAACP and join the fight.
Bio: Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas is an award-winning columnist, veteran civil rights activist and former officer with the Gloucester County NAACP. He is the cofounder and retired director of Philadelphia Prison System’s Office of Community Justice and Outreach.
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