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Abby Clark: #protestspotlight

Garden Spices welcomes Abby Clark, who plays a vital part in the Project Say Something protest against a Confederate Monument in Florence, AL.  Her work,  #protestspotlight, documents profiles of individual protesters, their motivation, and vision. Here are some of the protesters spotlighted.- Victorine


Today’s #protestspotlight shares the voice of

Trinda L. Owens whose insights remind us of the injustice that keeps monuments of hate in place.

“If I had to describe what we want in one word: freedom. The statue is a symbol of bondage and of hatred. In a place of justice that statue represents injustice and the officials that are standing behind it are upholding that injustice. Right now it’s not justice for all. It’s supposed to be for all people. The reaction we’ve been getting shows we have a race problem here. There’s been so much hate shown in the hearts of this area. So I definitely understand why some are afraid to come out to an extent. We, unfortunately, live in a racist society, and they’re worried about their families and jobs. But you have to be fearless. To do something like this, fear can’t be at the forefront of your mind. Our message is simply that we want you to open yourself to understanding why we’re here. Really check the history. Even the dedication speech was very racist. With that history behind the monument, it cannot be justice for all.”

Trinda L. Owens


Today’s #protestspotlight shares the perspective of regional NAACP officer and protest legal advisor

John Williams, who touched on the need for fearlessness during this historic moment.

“Racism exists in this whole city, all throughout Florence. It exists even in the layout. And here people are finally speaking out because they see the racist beliefs behind this monument. To the opposition, I would say that the movement is alive and we will continue until the statue is down. We will ensure our voices are heard. We will stand for justice—that’s the message we’re sending to the council and to the commissions. We’re lifting our voices at a time when we have seen such violence against black men in this country, namely at the hands of police as in the case of George Floyd. If George Floyd didn’t drive at the conscience of American people, I don’t know what will. We’ve got to expose those who are violating the rights of black citizens. You don’t have to be afraid to stand up. They want you to be afraid. They may drive through and try to intimidate us. But they used those same tactics in the 60s during the Jim Crowe era and we persevered. We can’t be afraid. I want to see black people here given more opportunities. I want to see equality. Come out and stand with us.”

John Williams


This morning’s #protestspotlight brings us Reemuhlus Bowden who came from Huntsville to support PSS. He was one of the many who flooded the streets of downtown Florence last night in order to stand in peaceful opposition against the Klan and add their voices to the cry for equality.

“We have this monument that celebrates white supremacy in front of a building that is supposed to impart justice. That represents racism under the guise of inclusivity and diversity and justice. And the fact that it’s taking this long to get it moved reveals a lack of empathy from the officials. Project Say Something and the protesters stand for direct action. The participation levels here are amazing. It’s a unified front, not just a few people. And yet we have a small number of administrators keeping the monument there, and those people need to be exposed. The monument celebrates intimidation and the men who were enemies of our country. The officials are placing themselves on the wrong side of history. We need police reform. We need funds given to these underserved communities to bridge that gap between the two America’s we’re living in. But the monument is where we start.

Reemhulus Bowden


Tonight, a special edition #protestspotlight that highlights Project Say Something’s commitment to broadening perspectives, giving voices to the disenfranchised, and teaching understanding across boundaries of difference–even in the face of violence and opposition. Aaron and Victoria Alexander shared their thoughts following this evening’s events.

“I wish they understood how that statue makes me and my wife feel. The words that were spoken when it was dedicated and to read how they demeaned African American people… it’s heartbreaking. You know the saying, ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees?’ These people are looking so hard at the story sold by the media—antifa, Marxists, the looting. But it’s not right to lump people together. PSS has not been violent or looting or destructive. It’s a false narrative, and I wish they could see my black brothers and sisters who are hurting as God sees them and see what that statue really means. I never felt any fear, but tonight I was truly afraid for the lady with our group that was targeted. That counterprotester rushing at her had hate in his face. I just wish they would listen, that they would understand. We’ve always been peaceful. And we’re still coming. We will continue to fight injustice.”

Aaron and Victoria Alexander


This morning’s #protestspotlight introduces us to

Gina Smith Jones. Her weathered sign held proudly stands as a powerful symbol of perseverance and of a message that cannot be suppressed come rain or shine.

“Racism has been going on so long that a lot of us are just going through the motions. I was used to seeing the statue. This movement opened my eyes. It’s not just the statue though. Hiring is a big issue here. Especially at the courthouse. There’s only 3 black people working there. Same thing with the city. And the teachers. When it comes to speaking out, black people are afraid of losing their jobs. They don’t know how to approach it. But I feel safe here at the protests. It’s my right to be here. I’m not hurting anybody. But it’s time. We have to share this city. You have to realize that this is a democracy. This is your right. Exercise your right. I know it’s hard. It’s been so long, so many years. My message to the officials is to realize that racism is here. Racism is here and we’re tired. I’m tired. It needs to come down.”


Gina Smith Jones


“Over the course of my project, I have interviewed close to 100 locals from all walks of life in order to construct a more inclusive narrative of what life has looked like in Florence, AL over the years. In particular, issues like race relations, education, wealth discrepancy, gender issues, the arts, and politics have shaped my research, but arguably the most powerful conversations I’ve had have been with protesters marching for the removal of the local Confederate monument. I’ve learned so much about how racism and inequality manifest in small-town communities, how difficult it can be to dismantle legacies of hatred and oppression, and how important it is to initiate conversations by whatever means necessary. I’ve been so inspired by the resilience of those who continue to use their voices for change, and it means so much to be able to share their stories.”- Abby Clark

© 2020 Abby Clark, All rights reserved.


Abby Clark

A native of Florence, AL, Abby is a first-generation student at Princeton University where she is pursuing a major in English with a certificate in American Studies. Abby’s academic interests lie in the interdisciplinary study of culture, particularly the value of stories as powerful tools for empathy, learning, and connection across boundaries of difference. She is finalizing an oral history project that focuses on the cultural implications of confederate monument removal, research that she hopes will shed light on the importance of engaging with the lived experiences of real people when constructing and interpreting historical narratives. This summer she also accepted a job working with Princeton’s historical archives and contributing her findings to the university’s ongoing slavery project. She feels immensely blessed to pursue an education that has given her the tools to speak up in favor of positive change and hopes to continue growing in her activism for Black lives, sustainability, accessible education, mental health awareness, and the LGBTQ community.

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