HF Park District LB Oct 1 – Oct 31 2019

Calling themselves Youth Against Inequality, a group of young local activists staged a candlelight vigil on Saturday, June 13, to honor African-Americans who were killed by police violence. 

About 100 people gathered in the plaza at Irwin Park, some in the low-key crowd holding signs featuring refrains of the Black Lives Matter movement. Others stood with family and friends, alternately enjoying one another’s company and turning somber in remembrance of the event.

Shante and Mark Roberson, of Markham, said they attended the event to commemorate those who have died at the hands of police. The couple, who attend South Suburban Vineyard Church in Flossmoor, said they believe recent events such as the vigil and other protests are making an impact.

“An event like this definitely raises awareness,” Mark said. “I look out in the crowd and I see a lot of non-black faces, and I really appreciate that support. I think it’s helping.”

Many of the vigil’s organizers recently protested with groups in Chicago, including Mikyla Maxon. She said their experience being downtown made them want to host a local event.

“There have been events (in Homewood), but nothing to recognize the victims,” Maxon said. “When a police officer dies, you see the other officers come together to have a vigil, but people who die by the police don’t get that opportunity.”

Like most of the organizers, Maxon is a recent graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School. She said young adults occupy a special position of power to use their voices for change.

“It shakes the world when they see people my age speaking up, being that voice of the future,” said Maxon, 17. “I wanted to be sure we’re using it for good in our community.”

Most in the group wore face masks, in compliance with current state health guidelines.

In addition to Maxon, students who helped organize the protest include: Carl Braxton II, Patrick Brewton Jr., Ariel Davis, Boaz Epperson, Donna Fondjo, Adam Freeman,  Madii Harvey,  Jazz Jabulani, Ava Jones, Kahlid Lamarre, Elizabeth Oduwole, Kai Offet, Razak Pedro, Phillip Smith II, Xavier Smith, Demor Winters, Arielle Wood and Jewel Young.

The group set out a banner with their name and logo — a skin-tone rainbow of raised fists — and asked vigil attendees to sign it in solidarity. 

As the sun set, attendees lit candles and stood in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the now-notorious length of time that a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of the late George Floyd.

Homewood resident Alexis Daniels attended the vigil with two of her five sons, 10-year-old twins Matthew and Mikey. While Daniels agrees that protests seem to be making a difference, she said she prays that action toward change remains consistent.

For now, she brought Matthew and Mikey to the vigil to show them their voices matter, she said, because this is a meaningful moment.

“I really wanted them to experience history,” Daniels said. “I told them, ‘Twenty years from now you’ll be able to tell your kids you were part of history.’”

Community Calendar

News by email

Subscribe to The Latest (daily headlines email)

* indicates required

View previous campaigns.

Free weekly newsletter

Subscribe to The Weeks (weekly newsletter)

* indicates required

Recent video: Progress on police reform, part 2