Local teenagers hold “March on Washington 2021” to celebrate Black History Month

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 10:31 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Dozens of children celebrated Black History Month in Cedar Rapids with a re-creation of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Students in the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corridor organized and led the march. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and the historic March on Washington, 15-year-old JaeCis Wright wanted to find a way to celebrate Black History Month here. “There’s no age limit to being a civil rights activist. And you can do anything you want to,” says Wright.

That led to the March on Washington 2021, “From Miles 2 Minutes” event held on Friday, where dozens of students and parents gathered to march down Washington Ave in SE Cedar Rapids.

Wright got involved in activism over the summer when she founded the “Jaecism Not Racism” program. The 15 year old connects with kids about heavy topics like racism, justice and connection. “JaeCism is a justice for all, accepting others, equality for everyone no matter the color...movement. And it’s just to get the youth involved and let them know that we’re here and they have somebody to talk to you,” says Wright.

She and other students from the Boys and Girls Clubs led chants and gave speeches about overcoming adversity and their personal experiences. Deronte Strong is 12-years-old, and spoke about equality at the march. ”You’re able to be you and you’re able to do whatever you want to if you put your mind to it. And you have to show love to people in order to get that mindset,” says Strong.

Lori Ampey, Director of Programing and Outreacht at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Corridor, has known these kids for years. And seeing them re-create a moment from the march for racial equality in 1963, in their own way, is moving. “Amazing kind of sums it up. It’s the first time I’ve never actually participated in the event, as far as speaking or talking, and it was just 100% youth led. I couldn’t be prouder,” says Ampey.

Wright says she was excited to see the dozens people who came out to march along and listen to them speak, and that she was happy with how the event turned out.

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