Justice Vigil

by Carol Rowan,
Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke

For seven hours on Sunday, June 7, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke (UUCR) held a silent justice vigil on the corner of Brandon Avenue and Grandin Road. The goals were to promote solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to express their sadness and outrage over the murder of George Floyd, systemic racism and continuing injustices.

Over 140 church members, friends and supporters stood on the sidewalk in shifts between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., holding signs, most of which said either “Black Lives Matter,” End Racism, or “Justice for All.” All wore masks and observed social distancing. The event was completely peaceful as Roanoke City Police, who had been advised of the Vigil, observed the event from a distance across Grandin Road.

All who participated were pleased with the outcome, as street traffic was heavy enough to convey the messages to many local residents. From many cars people waved, gave a thumbs up sign, smiled, and honked their horns. While there were some who clearly were not supporters, they were few and far between.

The UUCR congregation hopes that jointly with the Roanoke Valley’s African-American communities, we can move forward beyond protests to enact real change reflecting justice for all, ending racism, and reinforcing the goals of Black Lives Matter.