Local pastor holds community conversation about recent protests and how to create change

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — People in Topeka came together Thursday to discuss the change they want to see in their community.

The death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of a former Minneapolis police officer has sparked protests across the country, calling for justice and an end to police brutality.

Pastor Gregory Bland Jr. brought a group of young people together along with leaders in the black community to discuss everything from the recent protests, to racism and how they can come together to create change.

“What about the personal experiences that they’ve had? You know, has somebody in their family experienced these things?” Bland Jr. said. “We want to have a candid conversation where they’re not being censored, where they can feel that they can voice their opinion.”

Sierra Jackson said protests are an important part of creating change, but it’s just as vital to follow them up with conversations like these.

“The protests are the start of the conversation and then following up is the most important part because then you’re educating people,” Jackson said. “Then, you’re changing people’s minds. You’re changing people’s hearts. You’re softening their hearts to think of new things and new ideas and different ways to think about stuff they’ve had in their head for a really long time.”

Bland Jr. believes young people are a key part in the process.

“We can’t change tomorrow without talking to the young people of today,” Bland Jr. said.

Jackson said it’s important for their voices to be heard.

“Getting involved in the movements is also very important and because we are the upcoming generation and we do have to teach each other how to be equal with one another and how to come together in unity,” Jackson said.

Bland Jr. said he’s also planning a Unity in the Community Prayer Walk at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 20 where they will walk from 12th and Washington St. to the Evergy Plaza in Downtown Topeka.

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