Ferndale Love March Draws Over 1,200 People (video)

schmidt-top-in-progressm1-realty-topFerndale Love March Draws HowesLocationOver 1,200 People (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 20, 2016)

Ferndale, MI – Speaking to a crowd of over 1,200 people, Ferndale Senior Sidnie Jackson’s voice was strong and confident as she encouraged those at the Ferndale Love March to remain connected and help support each other even after Sunday’s show of solidarity.

“Imagine how different it would be you were standing in this exact same spot with one sign alone,” Jackson said.  “You would not make half the impact that we are making right now. garden16_ann_perryCars driving by wouldn’t look at the signs and realize this is a peace rally, and something where were trying to spread love. Every single one of the signs are positive. It’s not just because there’s one, but because there’s many that were making such an impact.”

The march began at Affirmations LGBTQ Community Center, headed West on W. 9 Mile and ended with a rally at Geary Park.

Marchers carried signs. Some carried small children.  Others walked dogs. Several rainbow flags could be seen, as well as a person wearing a Tyrannosaurus Rex costume. One attendee counted 1,213 marchers as they passed by Taco Bell, and many more joined in for the final rally.  The event showed solidarity for people of different races, faiths, sexual orientations, genders, abilities, viewpoints and all the other characteristics that are sometimes used to divide people.

NewWay_Jazz_TuesdaysThe main speaker for the rally was Jackson, who talked about being open to new people and new experiences.  She shared how she was once given an opportunity to job shadow a surgeon.  The prospect made her nervous, but she was open-minded and did it anyway. Now she knows that she has what it takes to be a surgeon when she is older.

She also addressed the women in the crowd.

“Growing up in a biracial multicultural household has giving me perspective. I’m so happy that I’ve had that perspective. My mom always taught me to have candid strength when voicing my opinions and give them the will to breathe through me, like so many other amazing women who have come before me,” Jackson said.  “Ladies, if you walk away with anything today I want you to remember to have candid strength when giving your opinionsGo Comedy Ad grape and to never let anyone try to shut you up because your opinion matters.”

The Ferndale Love March started with a small group of friends who wanted to carry inspiring signs through Downtown Ferndale in support of people who felt threatened or fearful after the election.  The original title “Ferndale Trumps Hate” was a play on the slogan “Love Trumps Hate” that became popular among Democrats during the election.  However, both the name and the original route became problematic as the event went viral and hundreds of people started to respond.

Opponents claimed there would be a hate march, and organizers found themselves bombardedPledge_side_blue with complaints and messages of counter-protest.  Security also became an issue as the response grew.  By moving the march to W. 9 Mile, Ferndale Police were able to close the street and keep the area more secure than had the walk started on Woodward as originally planned.  Police officers from neighboring communities helped block the streets and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department provided aerial support.

The Ferndale Love March remained peaceful, as did the gathering at the end.

Allison Alexander, who organized the event along with Mindy Domke, Laura Hameson Rice and others, said she was “overwhelmed” by the love.  “The turnout was incredible, and there was not a single negative incident. I’m so proud to live in Ferndale. We wanted 15 people to Rust Belt Ad late Fridaysstand with us and got hundreds. I’m so grateful for our community, city, and police,” Alexander said.

It was more than any of us thought we were capable of creating. Having my city help and support this kind of event is exactly why I choose to live here,” said Domke.

Mayor Coulter spoke about the fears and worries that had brought many of the people together.

“This election did not create divisions in our country. It really exposed to them. And our job is to see them for what they are, and to heal them. That is what we’re called to do,” Coulter said.

gallowaycollens1“Our message when we leave here is this, the things that unite us, are stronger than the things that divide us. And the values that we share are not just Ferndale values, they’re not even just American values, they are human values. We are going to hold onto these things. And we are going to defend these things. For the next four years we will debate policies, and we will debate how we move our country forward. But these things we will not debate.  These things we will defend with the courage and the strength of the love we show here today with each other,” the Mayor said.

“My challenge for you is to take the love and the strength and the courage that we have gathered today and go forth from here, and stand in your truth, stand in the values that we all believe in, and we will make this our country for all of us.”

NOTE:  Thank you to Ann Warner Photography for sharing shots of the march.


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