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Downtown event Sunday to promote equality, justice

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Like many others Michelle Gray watched the evening news and read newspaper articles about the shooting of unarmed black men and women and the retaliation and killings of law enforcement officers.

She wanted a way to have people gather and share their stories that could shed some light on equality and justice in the community. She put a question to her Facebook friends about organizing such a gathering.

A friend who owns Two Pigs Farm in Cleveland said if she planned and organized an event, he would donate the barbecue. Gray, who lives in Salisbury, began asking community leaders how she should go about organizing the event and the feedback was what launched Salisbury Together.

The free community event will be held from 2:30 pm to 4:30 p.m., Sunday at 270 W. Fisher St., in the parking lot across from the Rowan Public Library. The purpose, Gray explained, is to “bring our diverse community together in order to listen, to learn, to share and archive our important individual stories.”

She saw a similar event held in Kansas following a Black Lives Matter protest where the police and local leaders gathered to speak to the community about how they could co-exist during these racially charged times.

“Our stories, which create Salisbury’s unique and meaningful tapestry, will be captured by using story booths to record your past, present, and future hopes for Salisbury. Salisbury Together will also shed light on the tremendous work being done in our community surrounding social injustice and inequity,” she said.

She hopes that by listening to those in the community about the work that is already being done it will prevent the deaths that have occurred in other cities throughout the nation and most recently in North Carolina.

Gray contacted Paula Bohland, executive director of Downtown Salisbury Inc., who put her in contact with local leaders who are working on social injustice issues.

Gray said contrary to some who may feel as though nothing is being done, there is work being done. Those community leaders will be on hand to share with attendees about how they can become involved.

People will have the opportunity to share their experiences, much like NPR’s StoryCorps, which collects the stories of everyday people. A story booth will be on hand for those who want to tell about what they’ve experienced and seen in the community and their concerns.

Salisbury Transit’s Weekend Express will provide free transportation to the event. Gray said just let the driver you know you are attending Salisbury Together, which are routes four and five.

Those in attendance will also hear from Police Chief Jerry Stokes and Mayor Karen Alexander.

The event is sponsored by the Human Praxis Institute, Downtown Salisbury Inc., the City of Salisbury and Two Pigs Farm. Human Praxis is a Salisbury-based human relations firm that specializes in strategic planning, racial and equity training and mediation services.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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