STEVENSVILLE — Sunday afternoon, June 28, local teenagers, with the support of parents, hosted a peaceful protest rally at Old Love Point Park in Stevensville. The event began at 2:30 p.m. under sunny skies. The 90+ degrees temperatures did not deter the teens who wanted to express themselves, as approximately 40 people gathered in the parking lot, under some nearby shade trees.
Protest organizer, Kent Island High School student, Tynay Wright of Stevensville welcomed everyone, “We’re here to speak for those who have no voice. We’re here to protest against racial hatred and injustice,” she said. Tynay, who will be a senior this coming school year, is a member of the “We The People” club at the high school.
Following the rally, Tynay said, “I know there are people that want to change. I feel our generation will make the progress that we need.”
Another group, STAR (Students Talking About Race), from Kent County joined in the protest rally. One of their founding student members, Riley Glenn of Kennedyville, who will be a junior at Kent County High School this year, spoke. Riley helped found STAR when she was still in middle school, following a racial incident that took place at her school in 2017.
Riley said, “I’m not Black, but I see you. I’m not Black, but I hear you. I’m not Black, but I stand with you. Did you know that 30.1 percent of people who have been shot are unarmed Black men in America? Maryland statistics show 36 unarmed Black men died in comparison to 30 white men. I have a question for my fellow white people — How come when talking to a person of color about racism, you’re ready to fight for a change? But, when it’s time to fight and they need help, you’re no where to be found!? Is it because your friend is saying derogatory things, or maybe you were raised by a family who isn’t aware of their own racism and you’re scared to speak up?”
Riley continued, “But if it was your brother, sister, daughter, or son dying because of the color of their skin is seen as a threat. How come I’m a white student and I’m not singled out in class, but when talking about racism and slavery, Black students are singled out and looked at when they try to educate their fellow students and teachers, they get TRUMPED, because of their age and race? How much does your life mean to you? When will the color of a person’s skin stop dictating if they live or die? When will Black lives truly start to matter? . . . Today, I’m here to say you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable because this fight is no where near over and I ask white people when was the last time you checked your privilege?”
Several other teens spoke, among those, We The People members Kira Talley, who will also be a senior this fall, and Class of 2020 KIHS graduate Seth McLaughlin. Both expressed concerns about people being judged for the color of their skin, and just wanting to “go outside for a run and come home alive!”
The final speaker was Kay Bowser of Grasonville, who hosted the first protest march following the death of George Floyd in Queen Anne’s County, Saturday morning, June 6, from the Grasonville Community Center. As she did at the June 6 march, Bowser, was quick to praise the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office deputies. She was witness to an altercation between two Black men Saturday evening, June 27. She said, “The officers let the fight play out, and no one was really hurt. The deputies decided to let these men settle their dispute without intervening with force.” Bowser made a point of saying that she is friends who with numerous law enforcement officers. “We have discussions about race”, she said.. I often tell them, ‘You can go home and take your uniform off. I can’t go home and take the color of my skin off!’
Bowser added, “Silence is compliance” in not dealing especially with overt racism in our society. “We have to keep talking about this, and I am not going to stop talking!” she said.
Many of the teens came with at least one parent present. Those who came without a parent, came with a teen friend.
Among the parents accompanying their children, Tonya Wright of Stevensville, Barbie Glenn with her daughter, Riley, and Paul Tue of Chestertown with his 10 and 12 year old son and daughter. Barbie said, “Paul (Tue) and I helped our children start STAR to bring awareness against systemic racism with Kent County in 2017.” Tue, who coaches youth football in Kent, added, “The last people to listened to in our society are kids. They don’t get heard, and we need to listen. I believe this generation will help make things better for our nation’s future.”
Also in attendance, Queen Anne’s County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Andrea Kane. She did not speak, but she did observe and participated in the teen lead rally by holding up a sign.
Following the speakers, Tynay then asked everyone present to hold up their sign and form a line in the parking lot to prepare to march together, all wearing face masks. The group did march within the parking lot, and then walked briefly over to the small business park that was next door to the park. None of the participants walked out onto Love Point Road. Those traveling past the park during the rally could easily notice the gathering and see the protest signs.