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African American, Latina mothers come together in Lawndale after days of unrest

Heather Johnson, from St. Agatha Parish, called for the women to find ways to help each other. “There is no black and brown against each other,” Johnson said. “We don’t want that, we want peace, we want justice.”

Mothers and clergy from St.Agnes of Bohemia Parish in Little Village, St. Agatha Parish in North Lawndale and other community organizations marched for peace Friday and met in front of a mural of Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mothers and clergy from St.Agnes of Bohemia Parish in Little Village, St. Agatha Parish in North Lawndale and other community organizations marched for peace Friday and met in front of a mural of Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Doris Hernandez told a group of African-American and Latina mothers gathered in Lawndale during a call for peace that she feels like she could have been George Floyd’s mother.

“We all can’t breathe seeing the injustices that are committed against our brown and African-American people because they want us to be invisible,” Hernandez said in Spanish before Friday’s demonstration.

She was among a group of Latina mothers who gathered at St. Agnes of Bohemia Parish in Little Village and marched about a mile north to meet a group of African American mothers from St. Agatha Parish in Lawndale to call for peace. Standing near a mural at Ogden and Central Park avenues depicting civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, the women chanted “Black Lives Matter,” in Spanish and English.

The call for unity comes after days of unrest sparked by the death of Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd was killed after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck while taking him into custody. Floyd was heard calling out, “Mama” during his final minutes.

Many at the demonstration called for the women to unite South Lawndale — a predominantly Latino community with North Lawndale, which is predominantly African American.

The women, carrying white carnations to symbolize their voice, often talked about the importance of the future of their children.

Consuelo Martinez, an organizer with the Resurrection Project, said all mothers want to protect their children.

“It is so incredibly painful to think that black mothers have to be so worried about the police killing their children,” Martinez said in Spanish. “I’m here to say, black lives matter.”

Heather Johnson, a mother from St. Agatha, called for the women to speak to each other and figure out ways to help each other.

“There is no black and brown against each other,” Johnson said. “We don’t want that, we want peace, we want justice.”

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, told the crowd that while the immigrant community struggles, the struggles of African Americans are greater.

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia told the crowd the only way forward was to work together, “advancing public policies like support for people to pay their rent, more food for everyone during the crisis and an unprecedented investment in disinvested communities across America starting here in the poorest communities.

Charise Walker, from the Westside Justice Center, brought her daughters — aged 8, 11 and 22 — to the demonstration to show them the importance of unity in tackling issues like police brutality.

“We rounded up all these people to walk, to march, to peacefully be together to say something about God,” Walker said. “To say something about the changes that we can all make, and to demand to do better not just from police but from ourselves as a community as a whole to say we got to do better, we got to take more action, we got to be more involved so that we have a better future for those coming behind us.”

Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust.