When event organizer Brandy Garcia-Waddy first watched the video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, she cried.
She is outspoken on social media, but she wasn’t alone in her outrage.
Now, she’s hoping to bring the community together in solidarity to help heal racial divisions with a prayer vigil, Wharton County Stands Together, beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 7 at the Wharton County Courthouse lawn.
‘If we are going to bring to light things that need attention in a positive manner and we don’t start addressing them from the inside out, then we’re part of the problem.’
Garcia-Waddy started to plan the event as a peaceful protest to address racism — an issue that hits close to home as the mother of a mixed raced 9-year-old child, Courtland.
“(Racism) does happen here,” she told The County Gin. “Courtland doesn’t face that same kind of prejudice yet, but I don’t know that he’s not going to if we don’t begin to bridge the divide. If we are going to bring to light things that need attention in a positive manner and we don’t start addressing them from the inside out, then we’re part of the problem.”
She soon found that faith was the best way to bring citizens face-to-face.
“I wanted there to be godly men there and pastors to pray. It’s going to be an emotional thing. There are going to be a lot of tears and a lot of hugs. But that’s a good thing,” Garcia-Waddy said. “With more godly people there, it’s going to set a tone for God to be present. When God is present and so many people are gathered, you begin to block out that darkness.
“The foolishness — the looting and the rioting — that is not of God. To steal for yourself and use this man’s death as an excuse? I do not agree with that. I feel like that is a lack of God. I feel like we need to start working more toward doing God’s business.”
Organizers also wanted the event to be inclusive — where all are welcome, no matter their color, background, political affiliation or profession.
‘We are all striving for one love … We are a very small piece of this puzzle in retrospect, but everyone should fit into the puzzle in one way or another.’
“We don’t want to have an event anywhere that has just black people or just white people; we want to include everybody — we need somebody from every different aspect of life and social background, rich or poor,” she told The Gin. “We need police to be there, not for security but for support and we need the city leaders there.”
She urged allies to join in the cause, reaching out to personnel at the Wharton Police Department and Wharton County Sheriff’s Office, in addition to community members on Facebook — many of whom have voiced their support and plan to stand together with her and her children on Sunday.
“Be involved. Not by liking or sharing Facebook posts. Show up. Support this by physically holding my child’s hand or holding a black person’s hand and saying, ‘I don’t care what color you are.’ We are all striving for one love,” Garcia-Waddy said. “We are a very small piece of this puzzle in retrospect, but everyone should fit into the puzzle in one way or another.
“Getting people out of their homes to understand that black people or white people, whatever side of the fence you sit on, are not the enemy. Ultimately, the goal, in my opinion as a Christian, should be that one of these days, we’re all going to eat at the same table.”
For more information about Wharton County Stands Together, visit the Facebook event page.