With approximately 150 people attending, 15-year-old Nelly Sprawls’ peaceful Black Lives Matter march last Thursday was a success. Nelly was expecting a group of 100 to attend, but said she was blown away by the community’s support.
Before the march started, Nelly and her mother, Lisa Fisher, were both extremely nervous, however, after the participants crowded around the small Blyton Park Gazebo to listen and march, all nerves had vanished. In addition to the marchers, a small police force mingled with community members before making their way downtown to stop traffic and support the peaceful marchers.
Lisa Fisher said it is extremely important for people to educate themselves. “When my daughter first started talking about Black Lives Matter, I was concerned and we got into many arguments over it.”
She said, “I took the time to educate myself, and I realized this is a very important and real issue.” She also was sure to add that while both she and Nelly were the organizers, Nelly did nearly all the work.
Nelly had the opportunity to speak as well, informing the gathering of the evening’s plans while offering water and extra signs for those who needed them. After Sprawls’ speech, Jacob Kiernan spoke up, and in summary said, “Before all lives can matter, Black lives must matter.”
The number one priority for the march was for it to remain peaceful. After the march Nelly said, “If there was any sort of violence, I was going to end the march immediately.”
At 7:30 p.m. the protestors walked down the sidewalk from Blyton Park to Water St. before turning to walk through downtown Sparta where Mayor Kristen Gust was a welcome sight, handing out water. The group eventually made its way to West Wisconsin Street. and turned North on to South Court Street, heading for the Monroe County Justice Center. Along the route, some cars drove by honking their support and yelling “Black lives matter” out of their windows.
At the Justice Center, a couple more community members spoke about how proud they were of the community for showing their support and how proud they were of Nelly for organizing Sparta’s protest. They also spoke about how to educate themselves and their families. A community member strongly recommended researching Campaign Zero.