Day five began at around 11:30 a.m. with a warm, beautiful day. We had been walking about six miles, and as the sun beamed, we walked up a hill, feeling confident and free. Suddenly, the climate changed, a heavy air forced itself upon the Walk Against Fear, but, still, we dove down the valley alongside the burning road. To the right, was a gas station, the only one along our route, today. We rested. We continued.
At the gas station, a middle-aged, white woman had spoken to us that the racism in Mississippi, ” There is reverse racism here. It is on the part of the Blacks, ” she confidently explained, but rejected our educating her on how the Black and Latino communities have been treated and are continuously treated. It set the tone for the next few minutes.
We crossed Highway 51 and Wheeler Road, took five steps, and a Hernando, MS sheriff blocked our path and began to interrogate our group. Sheriff McHann, demanded to see Ingrid’s driver’s license without explaining why we were being stopped. He questioned us all and checked to see if Ingrid had any warrants out for her arrest. After all, Ingrid asked for his name and badge number. He responded, “Are you going to report me?” knowing he was breaking the law and exercising his racist views as we exercised our right to simply walk on land. We would go on to to be stopped by seven cops total. And now, is it a coincidence that two more police cars are outside the house we are staying at?
The more we walk into the heart of Mississippi, the more we see its lack of that very organ. Mississippi’s Congress is on the brink of passing the Alabama copycat and showing with full force its racial division and desire to keep the status quo. They have engaged us in a divisive war, but we will only react with powerful peace guided by our community’s backing.
Yesterday, our lives drove us to begin this walk. Tomorrow we might risk arrest for looking different or being from a different country, originally. Tomorrow, we need your powerful spirit with us. Tomorrow, we walk forward.