Several hundred people gathered in Nashua Saturday evening to honor black men and women whose lives have been lost to police violence.
Jordan Thompson with Black Lives Matter Nashua organized the vigil held at Greeley Park. Several state and local officials spoke, including state Sen. Melanie Levesque, state Rep. Linda Harriott-Gathright and Nashua alderwoman Shoshanna Kelly.
Kelly encouraged those in attendance to seize the opportunity of this moment in history and take action to dismantle systemic racism.
“We need to turn our pain into power,” Kelly said.
The majority of the program was centered on young activists like Grace Kindeke, who spoke about the racism she and her family have experienced in New Hampshire.
“I have often heard people say that racism doesn’t exist in New Hampshire, that racism happens out there and not here,” Kindeke said. “White supremacy doesn’t exist out there. It lives and breathes right here in our local political and public spaces, our nursing homes, our hospitals, our schools, our executive boards, our hotels and our bars.”
Kurt Bertrand, another young speaker, has lived in New Hampshire for most of his life.
“I am not a threat to you,” Bertrand said. “I’m not someone you need to hide your purse from, which happened in these streets in Nashua.”
During his speech, Bertrand asked everyone in the crowd to turn to their neighbor and tell them they are a human being who deserves to be loved.
Seventeen-year-old Layne Davis performed the song Rise Up by Andra Day.
“It’s been amazing just to get involved and have my voice heard, just to feel like the community is finally hearing our point of view is so empowering,” Davis said.
Several of Davis’ family members were there in support, including her father Charles Davis who has lived in Nashua for over three decades.
“This has been impactful just to be here with my family, my wife, my grandson, and to expose him to something that he’ll remember for the rest of his life,” he said.
It began to rain toward the end of the event, but most of the crowd remained in the park.
Attendee Doris Brown Young said this is the most community support she’s seen in the 30 years she’s been in Nashua.
“We can make a change, not just from the momentum of this vigil, but we have to continue all working together for the same common cause,” Brown Young said.