Brookhaven resident Ruthie Norton and a neighbor usually do “science Fridays” with their 4-year-old sons, where they do science experiments as learning exercises. But in the midst of the protests against police brutality around the nation, she opted for a different lesson.
On June 5, Norton organized a children’s “Black Lives Matter” march in her neighborhood, expecting about 10 children to make signs and get together to walk around the block and have a conversation about racial equality. However, the turnout was 10 times the size, bringing out the mayor and members of the police department as well.
“A big part of this whole effort is teaching the kids they have a voice,” Norton said. “They’re not just kids. Their voice is just as important and as impactful as anyone else.”
Norton wanted to show her support for the Black Lives Matter movement, but she was worried about bringing her 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter into Atlanta, where there had been violent protests.
She posted the march in her neighborhood Facebook page, and the support poured in.
“It was a great event,” said Mayor John Ernst, who spoke to the protesters. “Everyone was very positive and upbeat about how we can do better. Change isn’t immediate, but these are the first steps to how change occurs.”
The group met at the Colonial Drive and Oglethorpe Avenue traffic circle in Brookhaven Heights and made signs and listened to a couple speakers. They marched around the block, and then about 30 people took their signs to the road to demonstrate to passing cars.
Norton’s son held a “No Hate” sign, and she said he especially loved seeing people honking and responding to it.
“He’s getting the point that we’re a community, and we can all come together to make a big voice,” Norton said.
However, Norton doesn’t want her activism to stop there.
As a white mother, Norton said her next step is to have “those hard conversations” with her black neighbors and friends to talk about how she can support them during this movement. She encourages others to do the same.
“Protests are really good, but I would also like to move forward with more concrete action,” Norton said.