By Dania Hallak, RHS Class of 2020, and Thifany Da Silva, RHS Class of 2022
A hundred people gathered at Revere Beach on what appears to be a typical sunny Thursday evening. A large crowd forms around the Reinstein Bandstand. They all seem to be happy and joyful. They’re cheering and applauding for various Black artists and inspirational speakers.
The youth organizers of Revere For Black Lives, who previously led and organized the Revere Black Lives Matter March, were hosting a commemoration to honor Black lives, give a platform for Black artists, and provide a place to heal.
“This country does not value Black people,” explained Seba Ismail, one of the organizers, in the opening remarks. “We wanted to have a space today where Black bodies are valued, honored, and celebrated, especially our Black women, who time and time again are forgotten in this movement. So today, we hear you. We see you. We cherish you. We love you. You matter.”
Black organizers then shared memoirs of the lives of Black women lost. “Natasha McKenna, a petite 5-foot-3 woman, was pinned down by six deputies and died as a result of being tased four times with 50,000 volts in the middle of a schizophrenic episode,” explains Faith Nwafor, choked up on tears. “50,000 volts! How much is 50,000 volts? For context, an electric chair used for lethal purposes administers between 1,000 and 2,400 volt shocks.”
The Black female organizers then moved to the front, chanting the names of 42 Black women that died at the hand of police brutality and white supremacy as the crowd repeated their names.
Annalisse Hart, a Black organizer and RHS student, then shared a speech detailing the current climate of this country and the media’s portrayal of this movement as a moment. She expressed sadness at having to realize so young that her life doesn’t matter in the eyes of the United States, yet she stays optimistic seeing the fight activists have put up for Black liberation in 2020.
DJ Scooby AV proceeded to play some music, inspiring more hope and joy, as the performers prepared. “We have a whole civil rights movement going on right now, but who says we can’t add no music to the scene”, he explains. ”Everybody has an art or some form of getting their message out there and people should just be all ears and incorporating.”
Daniel, age 11, and 9-year-old Khaleesi Occena kicked off the performances with a dance to “Do It Like Me.” Performers Mariama Savage, Hanah Parker, Max Tilus, and Latoya Kibusi shared personal poems. Others, Fahtiza Quessa and Tamia Berry, shared spoken words, while Sivart, serenaded the crowd with three of his songs, “Moonlight,” “Daydream,” and “Love Song.”
The organizers then opened the floor for the crowd to express themselves. Some shared personal stories and cultural dances; others moved the crowd with some songs. At one point, the crowd began to form a train while dancing to “Follow The Leader” from The Soca Boys.
The event also consisted of a raffle with all of the proceeds going to a bail fund for Rodolphe Saintval, a Black man facing potential incarceration for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and Families for Justice As Healing, an organization that aims to help incarcerated Black women and girls.
As the commemoration transitioned to the vigil, organizers and volunteers handed out candles to the crowd as everyone sat in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time the police officer had his knee on Geroge Floyd’s neck. The moment of silence was concluded by a Christian prayer by Devna Langat and a Muslim duaa by Dania Hallak.
The several Black artists held gratitude for this event and its significance. “I just want people to hear my voice and hear what other Black girls are going through.”, Latoya Kibusi expressed. “[The Black Lives Matter] movement is not like every other movement. I feel like this movement is actually gonna succeed and Black people are gonna get what they want, what they fully deserve.”
The Revere for Black Lives is an organization consisting of Black and Non-Black youth. Their goal is to end systematic racism, elevate Black voices, and bring the people of Revere and neighboring cities together to fight for Black lives. You can follow them on Twitter @BlmRevere, Instagram @revere4blacklives.