2020 Moments: Hope and Solidarity at Edinburgh’s June Black Lives Matter Protest

With 2020 drawing to a close, we’ve asked our writers to tell us about the moments that made the year for them.

When reflecting on 2020, it’s all too easy to think of the hardships this year has brought upon us. We might associate the year with separation, isolation and a mutual longing for a time to reunite, after all – we have spent a whole ten months having to restrict our lives and who we can see. But during those unprecedented times we discovered new ways to support each other that brought us together in unity. In June 2020, I attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Edinburgh and found the global solidarity with the movement to be very powerful at such a poignant time in history.

Over summer, awareness for the Black Lives matter movement increased significantly after several cases of the murders of black lives were highlighted. Founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, the #BlackLivesMatter Global Network Foundation is a global organisation in the US, UK and Canada whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. In a year when social gatherings via Zoom became the norm, it only makes sense that social and political movements also had a huge online presence. Social media played a fundamental role in allowing stories to be shared and spurred a world wide stance of solidarity with the BLM movement.

Instagram became rife with infographics about race related discourse from all over the world that was accessible, informative and could easily be shared while Twitter allowed for conversations that aided the movement. All over the world, while battling with the damages from the virus, many of us understood the urgency and importance of this movement and made a conscious effort to find ways we could participate.

I felt nervous in the lead up to the protest that took place in Holyrood park in Edinburgh on June 7th. It was the largest group of people I would be gathering with after several months of lockdown and admittingly, I couldn’t help wonder if the decision I was making to go was correct. Fortunately, my concerns were put to rest from the moment I arrived at the park. The event was so well organised, with volunteers supplying anyone who didn’t have PPE with masks and gloves, clear circles drawn on the grass indicating where you should be positioned, and staggered leaving times so that everyone could continue to distance as they left the protest. It was a peaceful, static protest where we heard from Black voices of all ages to stand in solidarity with America while discussing the issues faced by Black and other people of colour in the UK and Scotland today.

For me, in that moment, standing in that park surrounded by people with a shared vision for a future without racism gave me enormous hope during a difficult year. 

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