“Change the systems — racial justice now,” read white lettering painted on the side of a green canoe, which was affixed to the top of a blue car at a driving protest in Morrisville early Sunday afternoon.
A spinning globe sat on the roof of a pickup, with a “Black Lives Matter” sign affixed to the rear window. A four-door sedan carried the message “Drive for equity.”
Over 200 vehicles, many with more than two passengers inside, pulled out of the Community College of Vermont parking lot and paraded slowly through Morrisville early Sunday afternoon, spreading the message of racial justice.
The event, put on by members of REAL: Racial Equity Alliance of Lamoille and the Social Justice League, came in response to the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
The alliance has planned events every Sunday in June. A car rally in Stowe is planned this weekend.
Rallies were held elsewhere in Vermont, including a gathering of about 3,000 people on the Statehouse lawn in Montpelier.
“Some of us grew up here and we just want to be seen in our community,” said Britney Spaulding, who is black and lives in Morrisville. “We’ve gone through some things here and it’s just really important to see everybody coming together and acknowledging that we all have work to do.”
Kirtani Mathauer arrived early to the event in Morrisville on Sunday and used tape to attach a “Black Lives Matters” sign to the side of her vehicle.
“I lived in Vermont my whole life and dealt with racism much of my life,” said Mathauer, who is Indian and lives in Fairfax. She said she hoped the event would convey to others the message of “peace, and love, and harmony, and understanding for people of color.”
Hannah Miller, a member of REAL from Morrisville, spoke of the importance of holding such events in rural areas, as well as the more urban parts of Vermont.
“I’m really glad,” she said, “to see people all over the state starting to participate to make themselves visible and to speak out against things that are important to us and help shape our identity as a rural community.”
Rabbi David Fainsilber of the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe, and a REAL member, said the group is planning additional events around Lamoille County on the Sundays ahead.
The aim of the events, he said, is to highlight the “outrageous inequities plaguing this country” and “to keep folks in power accountable, to keep up the education that needs to happen, including in Vermont and in Lamoille where this is also an issue.”