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CREEDMOOR — About 150 people gathered in front of Creedmoor City Hall on Thursday evening to talk, advocate for equality and bring awareness to racial injustices in the community and the nation.
For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the crowd stood silently. Some prayed, some fought back tears, some stared straight ahead.
Many later said they knew they had to be a part of a change in the community.
The gathering was originally planned as a march before weather caused organizers to postpone and then modify the event. Participants, many holding signs, joined their voices with those marching and protesting across the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of police.
Thelma Thomas Mungo, one of the organizers of the meeting, said Creedmoor had its own history of injustices and racism. She said humanity has many problems.
“And we need everyone, no matter your race, to be supportive and band together to make a change,” Thomas Mungo said.
Anyone who doesn’t speak up for change is condoning racism, she said. She urged people to confront family and friends opposed to change, open a dialogue with them and help them change their minds.
“We have to start speaking up to protect our community and especially our young people,” she said. “Ignorance should not be ignored.”
Thomas Mungo urged her listeners to educate themselves on local politics and policies, get younger people involved and understand the power their voices have on laws and ordinances locally passed by the Creedmoor Board of Commissioners and other local leaders.
“There will be initiatives to bring to light different opportunities for the young people to get involved,” Thomas Mungo said at the event. “Please listen and hear what our speakers are saying and see how we can change the narrative of our city’s history.”
“We are having a discussion of injustice and equality to move into action,” she added. “We aren’t just talking; we are making a change for our city.”
The Rev. J. Eric Morgan from Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church talked during his speech about the segregation of church communities on Sunday. He said he doesn’t know many pastors from other churches, but hoped to change that by encouraging churches to come together “as children of God” to know one another.
Morgan said racism is worsening in the nation.
“When you see injustice you ought to call it out,” he said. “It does not matter whether it is done to a white man or a black man or Hispanic man or to somebody from somewhere else, it should be called out.”
Creedmoor Mayor Bobby Wheeler read the crowd something he posted on social media.
“We grieve for the family and friends of the late George Floyd. We grieve for all the people of color who must endure the ugliness of racism in this city, county, state and country,” Wheeler read, adding he has grief also for businesses damaged in protests, as well as for protestors who feel frustrated they are not being heard.
“We, the citizens of Creedmoor, join with you in support of this message that you are expressing with a peaceful protest,” Wheeler said. “We call for swift action and justice for George Floyd and all people who were denied justice and fairness from our legal system.
“We must pray for our leaders to make changes to connect with our citizens and let them know change is not just a word, but an action and together peacefully we can make that happen.”
Wheeler also read a resolution passed by the Creedmoor commissioners denouncing the killing of Floyd.
Another speaker was former state Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr., who called the killing of Floyd unacceptable.
“If any one person is treated improperly with injustice, then we are all treated improperly,” McKissick said. “It is time for us to know as one that we can bring about change to America.”
In his comments, former Creedmoor Mayor Darryl Moss told stories of his life where he encountered racism. He said his cousin was killed in Raleigh “because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” but nothing happened to the police officer involved. Moss also talked about his own encounter with a Granville County deputy.
Other speakers included The Rev. Jeanette Paschall, who spoke about treating one another with repect and Rob Fountain.
“If you are not committed to change, keep it moving,” Fountain said, saing the baton of fighting injustice is being passed to a new generation.
He also said citizens need to learn who the officers in their communities are. He pointed to several cops who talked with children in the crowd before the event started.
“We as a community need to put that racial stuff aside,” Fountain said. “We understand what injustice is and we need to start facing justice and we need to look inside ourselves.
“We have to give up the judgment of self and stop judging our brothers. Once we are committed to not judging each other, we can come together to build something different and build something special.”
Those themes were echoed by all the evening’s speakers.
Thomas Mungo said everyone has to make a change so that inequality and injustice does not exist.
“Now is the time we make a change that we want to see,” Thomas Mungo said.