Part 3 of an ongoing series about local organizations addressing racial inequities.
In Berwyn, where Route 30 begins its steep incline to Daylesford, Tajsha Gray-Vause turned to look behind her. “Seeing how many people were marching with us—and how many of them were white—was a powerful moment,” says Gray-Vause. “In this struggle, people of color have felt very alone.”
On June 4—10 days after the death of George Floyd—about 1,500 people took part in a five-mile march organized by Main Line for Black Lives. Gray-Vause and her co-leaders created their group and organized the event in less than a week. A rising sophomore at Alvernia University, Gray-Vause is a 2019 graduate of Conestoga High School. Fellow organizers Faith Jacobs and Jeremiah Miller are rising seniors at Conestoga.
The idea for Main Line for Black Lives began with a group text sent by Miller after a video surfaced of Floyd’s murder. “This was another moment—another chance for the community to act,” Miller says. “We’ve dealt with racial injustice at Conestoga. But when we decided to do the rally outside of school, it felt like we were speaking to everything.”
To announce the march, organizers launched the MLBL Instagram account, which quickly gained thousands of followers. “People said we needed this as a community,” says Gray-Vause. “There was nothing but support and love.”
MLBL organizers worked with local police departments, taking decisive steps to ensure that any protesters intending to spark violence wouldn’t infiltrate their march. “We wanted to change the narrative of what was being shown on the news,” Miller says.
Related article: Voices of Change: NAACP Main Line Branch
Residents and business owners joined the march as it proceeded down Route 30, and organizers live-streamed as much as they could. “To see the support was amazing,” Jacobs says.
The event ended in impassioned speeches. But BLML organizers know that more than words are needed to engender long-lasting change. They’re currently collaborating on next steps, planning to turn the march into a movement.