BREANNA SLOAN organized the peaceful protest with the help of her sister, Bernice Sloan.
A young Whigham woman and her sister have helped organize peaceful protests in their home county this week to speak out against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Breanna Sloan, 23, and her sister Bernice, 20, have helped gather supporters to hold signs for passersby as they chant phrases imploring understanding.
“I saw others doing it and thought, why not do it in our own community, let our voices be heard,” says Breanna Sloan, a self-employed cosmetologist.
Sloan says she posted her idea on Facebook to gauge interest. “I thought maybe more people will come and show support,” she says.
The first gathering took place Sunday near Valero gas station on U.S. 84. By Monday, about 30 people joined in the group, some hanging back in support but most standing roadside and holding signs at an abandoned Petro gas station farther east on U.S. 84.
Jah’nyia Mills, 19, brought a bull horn and led many chants. The Cairo High School graduate and current junior at Valdosta State University says she is now emboldened to shed her quiet demeanor. “I feel like sometimes we aren’t heard enough,” Mills says. “I was picked on in school for being too quiet, and I feel like that’s our problem now. We need to speak out.”
Mills led the crowd in several rallying calls such as, “black lives matter, stop killing us”, “we want justice, we want peace”, “being black is not a crime”, or “say it out loud, I can’t breathe”. Participants chanted the phrases and waved their homemade signs as passing cars honked in support.
Sarah Connell participated in the gathering with her brother, Luke. Sarah Connell says she felt compelled to support the effort. “I am here for my friends, my neighbors and my community. When members of our community are saying they aren’t safe because of their skin color, it’s important to listen to and amplify those voices. Because if the community isn’t safe for some, then it isn’t safe. Period. And it’s the responsibility of everyone to fight oppression and injustice,” she states.
Mildred Lundy says she has loved living in Cairo for the last 12 years and wanted to be a part of the movement. “I don’t like what’s going on, the racism. Everybody just needs to get along,” Lundy said.
After about an hour, the group of protestors walked west on 84 to its intersection with GA 188 where they held their signs for motorists and repeated their chants for some time before returning to the home base, where they made tentative plans for a Tuesday night event. That protest, however, was canceled.