Kansas City, Kansas Families Rally to Support Local Student

Bekah Swank

9/26/2020- Kansas City, Kansas

Pastor Terry Bradshaw speaks at an event in support of 11 year old student

Photo by Bekah Swank

Several organizations and community members gathered at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas on Saturday at 1 p.m. for Kids Against Hate, a march and rally to support 11-year-old Nevaeh Thomas and highlight the need for racial justice in Kansas City.

Nevaeh was the focus of local news in early September when another child allegedly called her racial slurs and physically attacked her. The experience left her with multiple injuries.

In response, Nevaeh’s church, Empowerment Temple, partnered with Alive and Thrive Wyandotte County to organize Kids Against Hate. The event, which was designed to include children throughout, began with a march from 9th and State to Memorial Hall. Once they arrived, families dispersed to various booths set up in front of Memorial Hall.

Alive and Thrive, a local network of organizations seeking to prevent and respond to trauma, held a booth throughout the event, as did Empowerment Temple. Vibrant Health, the Della Gill/Joyce H. Williams Center, and Poetry for Personal Power also set up booths to encourage community members to use their services. Volunteers set up tables on the lawn in front of Memorial Hall with various craft activities for the children present.

Various speakers participated in the rally portion of the event in support of Nevaeh, including Senior Pastor Terry Bradshaw of Empowerment Temple Church, Nevaeh’s mother Brandi Stewart, and Nevaeh’s grandmother Kendra Dean Martin.

Many of the speakers praised Nevaeh for her bravery after she was approached by a boy who was addressing her with racial slurs. Multiple accounts report Nevaeh’s use of the words “My Black is beautiful” to counter the slurs. According to Bradshaw, moments later, the boy began beating her with a metal pole.

A representative from Strange Music, an independent music label, visited the event to present Nevaeh a medal and to deliver recorded messages to her from several artists she admires. Tech N9ne said, “We are proud of your bravery,” and another artist shared, “We love you. Your Black is beautiful.”

Both Martin and Bradshaw shared personal experiences with racism in their own communities.

Martin described a coworker who addressed her with the N-word. She said that rather than dismiss the aggressive coworker, her employer simply issued a warning. “If [the child who attacked Nevaeh] had been reprimanded,” Kendra said, “Nevaeh would not have been harmed.”

Bradshaw described the role that racism plays in the lives of many Black families. “I don’t have a dream today,” he said, “I have a burden … My Blackness is seen as a threat to society.” He described local businesses run by Black families dealing with a lack of capital due to racism, and said that he had been pulled over several times in Johnson County just so that police could ask him why he was there.

In addition to highlighting challenges, the speakers also encouraged those gathered to take action against racism.

Nevaeh’s mother emphasized, “Every parent should teach their children to love. If we make a change now, then our kids can have a future.”

“[Hatred and racism] have no place in our churches, no place in our schools, no place in our homes,” Bradshaw stated. “We stand for love. Change cannot happen unless we inconvenience ourselves for justice.”

Nevaeh Thomas also took the microphone for a short statement. She encouraged everyone in the crowd to pursue love, not hate. “Let’s keep our kids right, not wrong,” she said.

In keeping with the many family-oriented activities, the tone of the event was hopeful and affirming. When asked why they attended, one person responded, “Kids have a voice too. We should start teaching them young to see past skin color.” They added, “We are all human beings.”

Bradshaw ended his speech by leading the crowd in a chant: “We stand against hate, and we are going to win.”

Published on: 9/27/2020