GRADY COUNTY COMMISSIONER LaFaye Copeland speaks to the crowd at Saturday’s Unity March event.
Calls for unity were heard on the courthouse steps Saturday as a crowd of all ages, races, and makeup cheered in support. The “March Into Unity” community event in Cairo was organized by several local young women, Tyteanna Daniels, Felicity Felder, Johnterrica Hines, Bernice Sloan and Breanna Sloan. It started with a crowd of about 100 walking from Holder Park to the Grady County Courthouse.
Speakers included Jevar McGhee, Felicity Felder, Jy’Kortnee Brown, Teresa Gee Hardy, LaFaye Copeland and Cairo Police Chief Giovannie Santos.
“I am proud of what Cairo is cranking out when it comes to the youth,” Chief Santos began.
He also challenged the youth to join the local police force. “We are hiring. If you feel like you want to make a positive contribution in the community, come in,” said Santos. “I cannot do this job alone. My door is open to everyone.”
The chief praised the organizers, and the peaceful crowd that marched from Holder Park to the courthouse Saturday at 10 a.m.
Hardy, who is the current chairwoman of the Grady County Board of Education, challenged those young leaders in the crowd to become active in the community by entering politics, and especially by voting.
“Serving your community is not hard,” Hardy promised.
She also warned those who voiced opinions on issues to have their facts straight or else they would quickly lose creditability.
Grady County Commissioner LaFaye Copeland got the crowd to join her in singing, “This Little Light of Mine,” and echoed Hardy’s call to vote.
“We’ve got to educate ourselves on the issues and go vote,” Commissioner Copeland said. “Don’t sit back and talk about change and do nothing about it.”
She suggested that saying “I’m sorry” would help heal relations. “Until we close up the wound, then we will always be without unity,” Copeland said. “People need to know the past to move into the future. Today when we leave here, we are going to leave here unified.”
Felder encouraged the crowd to fostering the positive growth of local youth by attending their sports competitions, plays, and other performances. She also echoed Copeland and Hardy in stressing the importance of voting. “Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does,” Felder said.
Felder also told the group that while growing up here and attending local schools she had been mistreated and overlooked. She said she was not given the opportunities others were given, but she expressed hope that would change.
She thanked the crowd for their participation and promised future events.