“No tweet, Tate speak!” and “No justice, no peace” rang out in downtown Jackson recently, as Madison resident Bria Williams led a peaceful protest.
Williams is a graduate of Madison Central High School and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi and master’s from Jackson State University. She now works as a speech-language pathologist.
“We wanted to be peaceful, but we also wanted to bring awareness to our governor and our leadership and the state of Mississippi,” Williams said.
The protest took place in downtown Jackson on May 31 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.
“There were so many things happening so fast,” Williams said. “George Floyd died. Breonna Taylor died. Ahmaud Arbery died. And that all happened in 2020.”
After Floyd’s death, Williams was angry. So, she set out to find a way to channel that anger into something positive and productive that aligned with her beliefs.
“I prayed really hard about it, and I saw all over the world that people were leading peaceful protests and Mississippi wasn’t really doing anything at that moment,” Williams said.
She realized it was the perfect opportunity for her to step in and do something and have her voice heard. So, Williams called her friend Mikaela Anderson, and together they planned a peaceful protest the night before within 30 minutes.
Approximately 150 showed up to participate in the peaceful protest.
“Our crowd was very diverse,” Williams said. “Our protest started at the Governor’s Mansion, because at that time Gov. Tate Reeves had only made a tweet about what was going on. We felt like a tweet wasn’t enough. We felt like he should have made a statement because this is something that is important.”
Following the protest at the Governor’s Mansion, the crowd walked to the Jackson Police Department for a silent protest.
“There were no chants or anything, we just had our signs and sat there,” Williams said.
As for the outcome Williams hoped for following the protest, she said, “I want the leadership of Mississippi to speak out on things like this. When injustice is done, we want to know what the leadership of Mississippi would do.”
While her first event was a success, Williams does not want efforts to stop there. She is currently in the process of leading and organizing a second event, which she hopes to host in Madison.
“This will be a night of prayer and worship centered around racial reconciliation,” Williams said. “We are planning to have this event at Liberty Park, and so right now we are working to get our permit approved. We want to have it on July 18.”
Williams has been communicating with Madison leadership to get this event planned. Her vision is to have a night of worship with a keynote speaker and food trucks.
“We want to talk about race in a fun way, but we also want to make sure people are aware,” Williams said. “My biggest hope for what people will feel after this event is conviction.”