At noon Friday, June 5, a peaceful demonstration for educators, students and parents has been planned at the Arkansas State Capitol. The demonstration will begin on the west side of the Capitol and organizers plan to lead a march to a mural of George Floyd on 7th Street.
Organizer Wendell Scales Jr. described the event as “a call to action to educators with an emphasis on students. During the recent events, our students haven’t had a platform to have any kind of dialogue.” When school is in session, teachers often have the opportunity to impact the lives of black and brown students more than anyone else, Scales said. It’s important, he said, for educators to inspire and support students amid such a traumatic time — just like they would if school was in session.
A Lonoke native and a longtime college counselor, Scales declined to identify the school where he works. He said he didn’t want to be perceived as speaking on behalf of his school. Scales said he’s long done work in the community, but this is the first demonstration he’s organized. He’s been helped by his friend and fellow educator Johnny Laine*.
Scales hopes for a diverse array of people in the crowd tomorrow. “Educators who are not of color have been looking for a positive outlet to show their young people that they’re there for them,” he said. “This is about showing the world that we’re going to protect our black and brown students.”
Look for students to play a central role. They’ll speak, share poetry, sing.
Scales hopes the event leads to “deeper conversations to ensure that our young people feel safe and have equitable opportunities.”
Scales encourages all who attend to wear a mask and maintain social distance as much as possible. He said there will be additional masks for those who need them.
*A previous version of this post misspelled Laine’s name.