Cincinnati State BMI members demonstrate “Our Lives Matter”
By E. Anne Grady
On January 22, 2015, members of the Cincinnati State Black Male Initiative from the Clifton and Middletown chapters participated in a statewide rally in Columbus, OH.
The Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) and United Returning Citizens (URC) along with a statewide coalition of progressive organizations and faith institutions, welcomed over 400 engaged community members, leaders and activists from around the state for the “People First Assembly: Our Lives Matter.”
The People First Platform includes: promoting the passage of the Fair Hiring Act and improved access to jobs; ending mass incarceration, instituting sentencing reform, a reduction in prison populations, prioritization of prevention and rehabilitation in the state budget, end zero tolerance policies in schools, and improve police accountability and restore trust.
Organizers briefly shared their personal experiences and the impact of various factors restricting their ability to succeed in society. Attendees rose to their feet when Akim Lattermore, a returning citizen who completed a five to twenty-five year prison sentence, requested a commitment to the People First Platform, dedicated to battle injustice and promote racial equality. Each member of the BMI rose to the occasion, in unison.
The rally concluded with a march to the Statehouse, followed by meetings with State Representatives and Legislatives Assistants.
After meeting with State Representative Denise Driehaus, Cincinnati State BMI member, Rayshean Everhart, noted, “I feel like I accomplished something today. Now I know what it feels like to stand up for my rights. I will be back. ”
Richard Hubbard, another BMI member, also commented, “I feel like I can be a part of something that can make a difference.”
The days’ events impacted each individual present, restoring their hope that one day, true equality can be achieved.
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