Local activists hold meeting for change

Core leaders (from left), Brandon Render, Veronica Reed and Chasity Rodgers lead a Black Lives Matter meeting at the FFYOA House on Thursday Jan. 19, 2016. The Bowling Green BLM chapter discussed their various projects and future events and shared their feelings about the inauguration. Even though members of the Bowling Green BLM dread about Trump’s presidency, core member Veronica Reed says, “there is nothing we should fear because there are still laws, I don’t feel like Trump’s presidency will change anything.” Michelle Hanks/HERALD

Danielle Chavis

The Bowling Green, Kentucky Black Lives Matter chapter held an open forum Thursday to address concerns of equality and inclusion within Warren County and the surrounding area. Taking place at the FFOYA House in Bowling Green, audience members asked questions concerning the goals of Black Lives Matter and how to address those goals locally.

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2012 and has since addressed an array of national issues concerning racial injustice. According to the organization’s website, Black Lives Matter is a “chapter-based national organization working for the validity of black life.” Working with the local Louisville chapter, the Black Lives Matter movement of Bowling Green was founded in November of 2016.

When asked about why she got involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, panelist Chasity Rogers said she believes the organization fights for the interests of her and her family.

“I decided to join because I have four black brothers and a black father and two black nephews,” Rogers said. “I have to fight for them and will not allow them to be a hashtag. They will succeed and not be a stereotype.”

The audience asked the panelists a variety of questions concerning how to confront racial issues in the community. Some of the issues brought up by the panel included the court case Jeffery Queen v. City of Bowling Green and Dustin Rockrohr — a 2016 case in which a Bowling Green firefighter sued the city over alleged discriminatory behavior in the fire department — as well as the death of Gynnya McMillen, a 16-year-old African American who died in a Kentucky juvenile detention center.

“There are a lot of injustices in Bowling Green and surrounding areas,” panelist Veronica Reed said during the meeting.

The local Black Lives Matter chapter, although new to the area, has been actively involved with voicing and demonstrating their concerns within Warren County. In addition to regular meetings, the organization has also held vigils for young African Americans such as Gynnya McMillen at the Warren County Justice Center.

Reed said collaborating with venues that stand with the organization’s cause such as the FFOYA house is important. The FFOYA house have described themselves as being a nonprofit community art venue that plays an active role in civil rights and social justice in the Bowling Green community. The venue has also held social activism events for causes such as renter’s rights in the community, domestic violence awareness and sexual assault awareness.

“People fear people of color; it is important to have allies,” Reed said. “Allies gather other supporters.”

Reporter Danielle Chavis can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]