In a time where protests and marches have become commonplace, Livonia native Beth Navas decided to switch things up last month. Navas embarked on a three-day march to the state capital that would take her nearly halfway across the state.
“I wanted to do something that was a little bit different than just the typical marches and rallies that have been going on,” Navas said. “I thought that it was a pretty significant walking distance, so I was hoping to bring a lot more attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Starting at 7 a.m. on June 27, Navas led a group on a journey that would take them from Navas’ house in Livonia to the capital building in Lansing. The group spent three days walking through towns, spreading awareness for Black Lives Matter, and at 10 a.m. on June 29, they made it to the capital building where Black Lives Matter Lansing was holding a protest of its own.
Navas wanted this march to not only be through her town, but to pass through as many as possible, so she could spread her message to more people, and a more diverse selection of communities. The significance of this march was not only in the ground covered, but in the amount of people it affected.
“Being able to walk through different towns and different cities, and trying to bring that advocation for change and just bring more awareness to it,” said Navas. “Just being able to walk through cities like Livonia and Howell, which have typically had more racist backgrounds, I thought that was very significant to the cause.”
The journey was not only physically tough, but it was a mental struggle to walk over 70 miles in just three days. Navas said it was worth it in the end, and once they made it to Lansing, they knew what they had just accomplished.
“The moment that we first the capital building, I think is when we realized not just how far of a walk it was, but just how the journey kinda brought everything together,” said Navas. “It made us remember the reasons why we were doing it because at times it was very mentally tough and grueling, but once we saw the capital building we know this was the right thing to do.”
Once Navas and the group of protestors made it to the capital building, they joined a much larger group that was there with Black Lives Matter Lansing to protest the same principles. Campaign manager for Michigan One Fair Wage, and local indigenous advocate, Pete Vargas, said that they were gathered there to support the Black communities that have been oppressed.
“These workers who are disproportionally Black, indigenous and people of color were in economic distress well before the coronavirus pandemic appeared,” said Vargas. “The Navaho nation especially was hit particularly hard, and received minimal help from our president, and now, poor African American communities are the ones that are suffering the most.”
Black Lives Matter Michigan co-founder, Angela Waters Austin, was also a speaker at the event, and she had similar things to say about the movement.
“Loving engagement is our guiding principle,” said Waters Austin. “Don’t let anyone lie to you or deceive you about what black lives matter is about. Terrorist organizations do not get awarded the Sydney Peace Prize; we are the only organization to be awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. We don’t only want to stop the war against Black people, we want to stop the war against humanity.”