Guest blog by Laurie Bogdan
Say their names. An idea became an action on June 13th for a group of 30 East Arlington neighbors. We gather periodically “6 at 6” (at least 6 feet apart at 6 pm), text ideas and opinions, report wildlife sightings, borrow puzzles and cooking staples, and ask advice. In the first days of Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations, our neighbors discussed ways we could be supportive and bring awareness. The idea was proposed to write in sidewalk chalk the names of black men and women whose lives were taken by police officers. The next day, a small group of four organizers, including a 15-year-old, met to plan the next steps. We chose a spot where hundreds of passersby would be impacted –The Minuteman Bikeway, from Elmhurst Road to Orvis Circle. We discussed details and made a plan to start at dust.
The first crew ranging in age from 15-78 worked from 9pm until midnight, completing the first 400 feet of names. Working by lantern and headlamps, the chalkers checked in with their teen project leader and were handed lists of names to memorialize. At 6am, the early-bird team gathered to complete the final 40 feet and add chalk titles at both ends. In all, 1,176 names were written, and the project that started at dusk was finished at dawn. As we wrote each victim’s name, we spoke those names out loud.
We were done just as the steady stream of walkers, strollers, runners, and cyclists began. Over the course of that day, hundreds passed by, many taking a break to contemplate our BLM remembrance.