'Peaceful protest' attracts crowd, comments, signs and unity
By Jim Turner

Posted on June 11, 2020 7:02 PM


Hundreds of people united in Russellville Sunday afternoon for a peaceful protest about race relations, prompted by world-wide concerns brought about by killings of African American people by white police officers in Louisville, Minneapolis and Georgia in the last few months.

The group, which included many white people, near the statue of barrier-breaking journalist Alice Allison Dunnigan heard impassioned remarks from several people, walked several blocks to and around the public square and to the historic courthouse, and then heard more speeches, including by Russellville Police Chief Todd Raymer.

The speakers/singers included Civil Rights icon Dr. Charles Neblett, and his son, Kamero Neblett. Among others presenting were Rochelle Jackson Sydnor, Kevin Temple, Von Sydnor, Dr. Nancy Dawson, Priscilla Sells-Bruton, Trey Farlee and Freedom Church International pastor Margaret Mena.

Charles Neblett began by singing personal lyrics about having gone down the (Civil Rights) road for 60 years and “still fighting for freedom.”  He told about “getting in the freedom fight” when he was 14 after seeing pictures of the brutal torture and slaying of a Chicago boy his age named Emmett Till because of race. Now in 2020 the fight continues following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a rogue cop in Minnesota. “Sixty years later, we’re still fighting for humanity,” the original Freedom Singer said.

To view Dr. Neblett’s song and comments, click on https://www.facebook.com/187257101298953/videos/249465646342359/UzpfSTEwMDAwMTQ1NDM4NTk0OTozMTQxMDc0Nzc1OTUwOTcx/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

Kamero Neblett said, “There are a lot of white people here, but it’s not enough to be non-racist. It’s imperative to be anti-racist.”

He offered a list of inequities he sees in his hometown, including the streets on the east side of Russellville being narrower that they are on the west side, the statue of the Confederate soldier standing in the park square, segregated churches, more blacks included in honors classes/gifted and talented school programs, and justice in policing.

A video of Kamero Neblett’s remarks can be found at  https://www.facebook.com/187257101298953/videos/258205005514733/UzpfSTEwMDAwMTQ1NDM4NTk0OTozMTQxMDc0NzA1OTUwOTc4/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

Rochelle Jackson Sydnor, who is a surrogate mother and grandmother to many in the community, summoned emotion and volume to urge people to help makethe world a better place for diverse young people. “Our babies shouldn’t have to listen to this at 5 or 6 years old, but this is what we have to do to save their lives,” she said.

To watch Rochelle Sydnor’s comments, click on https://www.facebook.com/kylespringer/videos/10220280189208527/UzpfSTEwMDAwMjUwMTI3NDMxMDozMDYwNjExMjk0OTk0MTQ6MTA6MDoxNTkzNTg2Nzk5OjUxNDg3MTg3ODk3MjE5MDAwOTY/

Slogans could be found everywhere including on people’s signs and on their shirts. Some of them were:

“Black Lives Matter”

“Do Not Be Silent; Do Not Be Violent”

“If Only our Pain Bothered You as Much as our Protests”

“United in Diversity”

 “Power to the Peaceful”

“I Can’t Breathe”

“I’m Black and I’m Proud”

“My Black Children’s Lives Matter”

“The Color of Our Skin is Not a Weapon”

“Silence is Compliance”

A child not much older than a toddler was wearing a shirt reading “I’m Not a Threat.”

For a look at the march as it went through downtown Russellville, see a video by Jaime Saul on the Facebook page of her The Flying Pig Coffee Shoppe. She said, “A community united. This is a pretty amazing place to live guys! Thank you to all those present, and thank you to our police officers! This event was peaceful and very positive!

Event Organizer Morgan Todd said, “I just want to thank everyone that came out today! I just want to let it be known that I could not have done this alone. So a huge thank you to those who helped. Thank you all for your support. Today could not have happened without everyone that helped and showed up. Russellville, we are one.


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