By Michelle Key
Smiths Station Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland and members of the Smiths Station City Council, along with a contingent of local African American figures and community leaders, participated in a Peace Walk on June 4 at 6 p.m. More than 250 people turned out to participate in the event.
Vincent Hunter, who helped Copeland organize the event, made the following statement at the beginning of the walk. “We are out here simply to show love to our community. There is too much division going on in our country right now, and even though we are a small city in the state of Alabama, our voices can still be heard. Our voices can still make an impact.”
“We just want God’s people to come together and bring about change. God’s greatest commandment was to love, and that’s our job – to show love to our neighbors. This feels like love,” Hunter said.
The walk began at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church and ended in front of the flagpoles at the Smiths Station Government Center. Once all walkers had assembled, there was a time for thoughts and prayers offered for peace and unity in the city, county and country.
“This is encouraging to the heart. We’ve got a way to go. We’ve got things to correct and… I think everyone wants to do better. This is the kind of event that we need to have to call attention to the issues that we need to solve. We need to take care of business.” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said. “From a law enforcement standpoint, public safety, you know, we’re public servants. It troubles me greatly, I [am] profoundly sad at the events that occurred in Minneapolis. That is not who we are. We serve at the will of the people, not the other way around.”
“We have a beautiful county and a beautiful city here, and what we have got to do is to continue to work together as one. And if we continue to do that and I know that you have the leadership on your city council and your mayor has pledged to do that,” Alabama Senator Randy Price said. “It is an honor to be here today. God is good. God is good all the time. Thank you for what you are doing. Let’s work together to make Lee County better and [to make] Smiths Station what we all want it to be.”
“We are here right now for peace in a time of pain. George Floyd could have been my cousin, my uncle, could have been my dad. We must all come together for what is right. Those who knew George Floyd said that he was a peacemaker. We should all strive to be peacemakers within Smiths Station. I will continue to use my peaceful platform to spread unity and awareness among my peers. Racism is a fight we all have to come against. In order to take over racism we have to acknowledge and be aware of it’s existence in this world,” said Grace Allen, a senior at Smiths Stations High School, as she addressed the crowd.
“Our community came together last year after the March 3 tornadoes, and we need to come together now as a city and community to take a stand against racism and division, because the recent acts of violence that have occurred in our country are not reflective of the beliefs and values that we hold here in Smiths Station,” Copeland said in a press release before the event. “We want to show that we are a united front, regardless of our gender, race or sexual orientation.”
The event closed with the crowd singing “Amazing Grace.”
For photos from the event, turn to A8.