‘Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter’ peace vigil in Nashville’s Public Square

People from all walks of life gathered at the Public Square Park in downtown for a peace vigil (photo by Marcus Jones).

People from all walks of life gathered at the Public Square Park in downtown for a peace vigil (photo by Marcus Jones).

Whether we know it or not, all of us have been deeply impacted by the recent killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the tragedy of the police officers slain in Dallas Texas. Peace vigils and rallies have been organized and held across the nation. Nashville has also weighed in, with one specifically held in Nashville’s Public Square Park. The park is overshadowed by the Metro Nashville /Davidson County Historic Courthouse building.

“We are in the mayor’s official front yard,” yelled out one vigil attendee.

However, the Metro Nashville/Davidson County Courthouse is more than just a historic building. It is the central ‘nerve center’ for city government, housing the mayor’s office, the Metro Council’s chambers, and both the city and county courts. Now that the groundwork has been laid, imagine the mixed feelings of some of the vigil attendee when a few of the event speakers (or attendees later) spoke ill of the mayor and/or the Metro Police Department. Other comments weren’t so focused, but all remarks and speakers’ agendas fall under the constitutional right to freedom of speech.

As mentioned earlier, the well-organized vigil was held to raise awareness and to be a call to action for the seemingly ongoing rise in senseless killings in the United States. The recent deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. and Philando Castile in Minnesota (July 5) and the shooting of five Dallas, Texas police officers (July 8) have galvanized the country’s emotions. The Nashville peace vigil was held without incident and people from all walks of life and various nations came together in a bond of shared unity.

Protesters held signs wanting to stop the violence (photo by Marcus Jones).

Protesters held signs wanting to stop the violence (photo by Marcus Jones).

Local organizations such as Gideon’s Army,  (BLM) Nashville, John Smith Marketing and others pooled their resources to make the Nashville Peace Vigil a success.

Each entity brought a different but equally important flavor to the overall melting pot. The Gideon’s Army Mission Statement says: “Our mission is to act collectively, boldly and strategically as a unified force for all children. We eliminate the root causes of the prison pipeline, save our children from death and incarceration and guide them on a secure path to success.”

Black Lives Matter’s Nashville’s Facebook statement says: “Black Lives Matter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.”

John Smith of John Smith Marketing, shared a portion of his reason for allowing his experience with over 20 years of being in business to support the event.

“I support the BLM movement and I’m dedicated to educating, inspiring, and bringing the Public closer together,” said Smith. “I share information on the BLM movement that everyone can understand and grow from. I also try to spotlight and support good police work in and out of the Black community as an example to how things should be done. A friend asked me how saying that ‘all lives matter’ could be hateful? And what about ‘black on black crime?’ What about Chicago, and all that? So I said listen, ‘I used to go to an inner city school. and I can tell you that if a Black kid at a school like Nashville’s Napier Elementary got in a fight, it was going to be with another Black kid. You know how I know that? Because that school is almost entirely Black and poor.”

No matter for whatever reasons these organizations decided to become a part of the BLM Peace Vigil, the most important thing is that they did. The numbers do add up, and there were an estimated 1,500 or more people in attendance at one rally, which began and ended peacefully and without incident in Nashville.

The event was covered by the main and cable news stations, newspapers, radio and bloggers—and pumped up via a bevy of social media sites.

Organizers even had their own security working the massive crowd. Bottles and cups of fresh water were made available in the scorching heart that later (after the event) turned into a serious storm.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been proud to see the various hues of color mingling throughout the crowd—not to mention the representation of various nationalities present.

Peace vigils shouldn’t stop after the immediate pain from such a loss ends, however. We as civilized people should practice and support these efforts 365 days a year.