Today I went to my favorite park in Denver (one of 250 to be exact) and that would be Washington (aka Wash Park). I hooked up with a friend for an iced tea and a catch-up visit. On my way back to my home I decided to drive my nostalgic way, which is up Lincoln St. to Speer Blvd. then to I-25. When I pulled on Lincoln St. I realized I was in the middle of a mass of cars with orange and yellow flags with a single star. At first I thought it was a country celebrating a soccer victory as we had just hosted an international tournament. Upon close examination I saw signs that STOP the Tigray Genocide, Free Tigray. I was surrounded by a couple hundred cars working their way up Lincoln St.
I thought for a moment about getting off of Lincoln but as I was in no hurry, I thought I would flow ever so slowly up Lincoln with them. What usually takes about 5 minutes took 35 minutes. I had time sitting at a stand-still to Google up Tigray and I got a pretty good explanation from a number of sources as to what is happening there. Denver is home to a large number of Ethiopian refugees and now second and even third generation citizens.
I watched a very orderly and focused attempt to bring awareness to their cause. I won’t try to explain what I know but it is another situation where the group that is in power is threatened, and is, in this case using starvation as a weapon. The protestors were headed to the State Capitol for a rally. In the last year we have witnessed protests in a variety of places and around multiple issues.
The first protest that I participated in was when George Wallace was running for President in 1968. He came to Enid, Oklahoma where about 400 Phillips University students got a front row placement at the Garfield County Courthouse. We had been coached to wear coats and ties and be very respectful. I remember how we surrounded the few black students who were with us, so there ycould be protected from the those who saw even their presence as a threat.
Wallace was keenly aware that we were right there. He had his canned comments about “long haired lazy hippies” and other choice words. The great part was that there was national news media there who wrote, “We saw no one fitting Governor Wallace’s call downs. The students were
orderly and respectful. The black students, often on the shoulders of their fellow students, spoke volumes”.
This time last year our country was embroiled in the reaction to the murder of George Floyd. Mary Kay and I were part of a peaceful protest at the State Capitol. However, we also saw senseless riots, looting and anarchists who used his death as an excuse for senseless destruction.
On January 6th we witnessed an insurrection fomented by the BIG LIE that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump. It was a riotous insurrection and an attack on our democracy. We continue to hear excuses, denials, lies, and rationalizations. The facts of history over time will bear this out.
Today I saw hundreds of people of African descent flying not just the flag of Tigray, also the American flag of their new homeland.
I was proud to be among them on their journey downtown.
Onward and Upward, Mark