By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
A few weeks after numerous protestors took to the streets nationwide, about 40 people in Portsmouth marched through the pouring rain down High Street to demonstrate love, peace, and understanding. Virginia Is For Lovers, Not Racists organized the walk. The local organization was launched in February by Coleman Young, who has lived in Portsmouth for 40 years but was born in Roanoke and migrated to Portsmouth, where he worked for the city for five years before moving into sales. The co-founder is Amii Creekmur, a hairstylist at Star Struck Styles LLC.
So how did your demonstration differ from those being held nationwide. “Ours was different because it was in the name of love. It was a love walk. I saw demonstrations going on around the world and most were peaceful. As leaders we have to be wise enough to know when to use civil disobedience and peaceful protesting.” “My group feels we have to be heard,” Creekmur said. “My organization is being repetitive and trying to make our message clear: The message is we must express empathy and not sympathy for all. If I sympathize with you and you lose a loved one, I will say I’m sorry you lost your loved one. If I empathize with your mindset, and feel your sense of loss, then I could be more sensitive to your feelings and thoughts, and needs.”
This means about a week after protestors in New York City filled Times Square, or marched down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Chicago, or blocked traffic before gathering in front of the White House, nearly four dozen people in Portsmouth walked in the rain to demonstrate love, peace, and tolerance. “I thought we needed to have a love walk to honor all of the lives that have been lost,” Young said. “We as a nation need to remember all lives matter. We want to bring love, understanding to all races. We will only make progress as we sit down and talk. As we listen to each other’s questions, feelings, and thoughts. That is how we will eliminate misunderstandings.” The organization has a five-member biracial steering committee. The group meets once a month. To join, go the group’s Facebook page.