SCHOOLCRAFT, Mich. — Wednesday afternoon, Madison Ring pulled up to Burch Park, parked her car, and unloaded several cases of water from the back of the vehicle to the park.
She carried each case from her vehicle to the middle of the park in 90-degree heat. Then, minutes later, she began putting blank cardboard signs and markers on a table.
It was for the Schoolcraft Black Lives Matter Solidarity Rally. Ring was grateful to finally host one in her hometown, she said.
“Our plan for this event is to unite Schoolcraft, Kalamazoo and the other small towns in south county because we have definitely realized there’s a gap between our community going into Kalamazoo,” Ring said during an interview with FOX 17. “There’s some of us who will go and protest but we really wanted to bring it here and encourage our town to connect with Kalamazoo more.”
By 5 p.m. over 100 people showed up to the rally. Many came with signs they made at home. Others made them there. Some parents brought their children and local high school students participated as well.
“The high school students coming and seeing this really makes me happy,” Ring said. “Just to know that they’re going to go to college and they’re going to take it with them. They’re going to be bringing it back home. And it’s just going to keep growing our town.”
The group marched down the sidewalks along Route 131 carrying their signs and shouting a number of chants like ‘No Justice, No peace’ and ’Whose lives matter, Black Lives Matter,’ It was led by a few activists from the Kalamazoo area including Khadijah Brown.
“This turnout today it just looks as though America and Michigan and the communities is taking a step in the right direction,” Brown said during a live interview. “Knowing that we can’t do anything separately. We have to come together to make change.”
The march continued down Route 131 and ended at Cass Street in front of the famed Dr. Nathan Thomas' house. Ring said his home was once a part of the Underground Railroad and that Dr. Thomas helped a thousand slaves make it to freedom.
There, everyone took a break and drank some water.
Ring encouraged people to grab some chalk and write messages about the march and movement on the ground. She said through a bullhorn that she wanted to keep Dr. Thomas’ spirit and message alive for others to see.
“The least you can do is come and just listen,” Ring said about the message she wants other to get. “You don’t have to hold up a sign. You don’t have to fully chant. We just want you here to hear the voices, to see the connection and not just judge it from social media.”