Hundreds of people gathered in Skokie’s Oakton Park for a Black Lives Matter vigil this afternoon, one of many demonstrations held in the Chicago area today.
Pat Savage-Williams, president of the Evanston Township High School School Board, read out loud a long list of names of African-American men, women and children who have died at the hands of police in recent years. The first name she read was that of George Floyd.
“The list keeps getting longer and longer,” Savage-Williams said to the crowd sitting on the grass of a baseball field. She also spoke about her personal experience of 25 years of living in Skokie as a black person.
“I had to explain to my kids why people don’t acknowledge us when we go to the park. Folks don’t even say hi to us. They treat me like I’m invisible,” Savage-Williams said. “I had to teach my kids when they were younger not to get too upset about that. Because that’s their problem, not our problem.”
Near the end of the program, attendees knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the length of time a Minneapolis police officer kept his right knee on George Floyd’s neck.
At the end of the eight minutes, participants cried out “Mama,” referencing Floyd’s last words.
Vigil attendees said the event was a moving and powerful tribute, and they hope for lasting change in Skokie and elsewhere.