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Church holds monthly BLM vigils to honor those killed by police brutality

Members and advisors of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Youth Council pose with their signs that convey anti-racist messages on Feb. 26, 2022 beside Highway 15-501, the highway next to Binkley Baptist Church. They have shown up for vigils regularly since May of 2020.

A small crowd gathered by Binkley Baptist Church Saturday at the edge of Highway 15-501, holding signs with anti-racist messages and names of police brutality victims.

Since George Floyd's murder in May of 2020, church members and members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Youth Council have held vigils to honor those who have lost their lives to police brutality. While initially held on a weekly schedule, vigils are now held on the fourth Saturday of every month. 

Kendall Lytle, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Youth Council, said the issue of racial injustice is important to both the church and the council. They hope to continue raising awareness about it. 

“Our whole mission is to make people more aware of the issues people face in this community — more specifically Black and brown people," she said. 

Wanting to connect the community, Binkley Baptist member Ginger Clifford and a group of her fellow churchgoers started hosting the weekly vigils. 

Clifford said that, before Floyd's death, Binkley Baptist Church had primarily focused on immigration justice. But since May 2020, they have concentrated on educating members about racial injustice. 

“We have done a lot to learn about racism and anti-racism,” said Stephanie Ford, minister of Christian formation at Binkley. “We have had to reconsider what it means to be a white Christian." 

Although Ford said the church has experienced some pushback from other community members, such as the defacement of their banners advocating for justice, church members continue to show up for every vigil. 

“Binkley is going to have ongoing conversations about race," Ford said. 

Vigil attendees represent a range of ages, races and backgrounds.

“It's especially nice that it's held at a predominantly white church to show that there's community,” said Vianna Fornville, a general member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Youth Council. 

Clifford, a vigil organizer, said some have questioned why the church continues to hold these vigils and what they accomplish. However, Clifford and other vigil attendees said they believe that persistence is important.

“It’s a connection to the community," Clifford said. "It’s a way of standing up and urging other people to stand up. It’s a way to keep the issue in front of the public." 

Chapel Hill-CarrboroNAACP Youth Council Adviser Lorie Clark emphasized the community-building aspect of the event. 

“This is about community and that the community comes together on a monthly basis to get out to say that ‘We're not going away,'" she said.

Although the vigils are well-attended, Lytle said she hopes to see more youth, especially young Black men, come to support their mission. 

She said the vigils are a continuation of the broader movement for racial equality that has gone on for generations. 

Clark said many attendees show up every month for the vigils and are committed to the fight for racial justice.

“It's a small sacrifice to honor the lives that have been slain and lost due to racial inequities and injustice," Clark said. 


@DTHCityState | 

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