Wylie Post of Chesterville speaking through a megaphone and Jordyn Ridlon of Wilton lead a Black Lives Matter march up Front Street in Farmington on Tuesday afternoon. More than 100 people joined the march to promote racial justice.  Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

FARMINGTON — It’s time for people to educate themselves if they want to end racial injustice, a University of Maine at Farmington student from Kingfield told more than 100 people attending a Black Lives Matter march Tuesday.

Isaiah Reid of Kingfield, left, addresses a crowd at a Black Lives Matter march Tuesday at Hippach Field in Farmington. Beside him, from left, are Jordyn Ridlon of Wilton, Wylie Post of Chesterville and Marco Montoya-Londono of Brunswick. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

“Now, I assume that because you’re standing before me now that you understand why we are here,” Isaiah Reid, a 2017 graduate of Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, said.

“I do not need to explain to you why there is no valid, or righteous, explanation for the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others,” he said in his prepared speech. “So I want to use this opportunity I’ve been given today to talk about what we do now.

“First we must educate ourselves,” he said.

“What is learned in school about black history is not enough,” he said. “That was a cruel joke. Those two weeks we spend on black history we learn what? That slavery was wrong but not all slaves were treated that bad, that racism in Maine doesn’t exist because we fought for the Union, and about two very important men, Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King.”

Both men did extraordinary things for black people and this nation, Reid said, but both were also murdered.

“Have we noticed that the public school curriculum implies that if we stand up for the oppressed, we are killed?” he asked after mentioning Lincoln and King. “We are using fear to maintain white privilege and black compliance.”

Bob Neal, 80, of New Sharon shouts “Hands up, don’t shoot” at a Black Lives Matter march Tuesday in Farmington. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

It’s no wonder it has taken 160 years to get sympathy for black people, he said.

“So we must take it upon ourselves to learn what we weren’t taught,” Reid said.

“Next we need to educate others,” he said. “We must speak to our families, friends and co-workers, and even the youngest ones in our society. We need these uncomfortable conversations and we need to realize what we have consciously and subconsciously done to others based on the color of the skin they were given.”

He said those who choose to spew hatred from their mouths also need to be addressed.

“As much as we might wish those we call ignorant and bigoted would just disappear,” Reid said, “we can not end systematic racism without their help.

“But when we address them, we should not yell, kick or scream. We must set the example. No matter how insensitive, ignorant, or blatantly racist that person’s remarks or actions were. We must ask them why they feel that way, and we must listen. We must do this because it is far easier to make our case when we understand where someone is coming from, as disagreeable as it may be.”

Adelle Foss of Farmington, Wylie Post of Chesterville, Jordyn Ridlon of Wilton and Heather Foss of Farmington, left to right, hold signs at the Black Lives Matter march Tuesday in Farmington. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

Cady Phelan of Farmington, one of many lining Main Street in front of Hippach Field and carrying signs, said, “I am here because it’s important. This is a nonnegotiable way to show our support for those who need it.”

Eighty-year-old Bob Neal of New Sharon stood with his hands up and joined in chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Chants of “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Say his name, George Floyd,” “I can’t breathe” and “Stop racism now” were elicited from the crowd as passing motorists honked their horns.

Marco Montoya-Londono of Brunswick stood in the midst of marchers, spurring them on to shout.

“Every time someone honks you got to make noise,” he said.

Wylie Post of Chesterville and Jordyn Ridlon of Wilton, two of the organizers, said they were happy to see so many people attend and thanked marchers for wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

After listening to the speakers, the group crossed Main Street and marched up Front Street with Post and Ridlen leading the way.


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