Black Lives Matter – the voices behind the placards

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People from across Liverpool came together in solidarity to peacefully protest against systemic racism and the murder of George Floyd in America on 2 June, 2020 at St George’s Hall.

The demonstration had been quickly mobilised through social media and word of mouth by Fireflyfighter, a Liverpool-based group who organise events to bring justice to the Black Lives Matter movement. Powerful and emotional scenes of burning injustice and demands for equality were shared with the large assembled crowd, inspiring them to take action and create the change they want to see in the world.

To collect, represent, and amplify those voices the Museum of Liverpool appealed for people to donate the placards they proudly held aloft and share the stories behind them. We feature some of those stories here.

The placards are being added to our permanent collections and some are on display in the Museum of Liverpool atrium

Some of the placards were used once again at a socially distanced march from the Rialto, L8 to St George’s Hall on 13 June. Buildings were also lit up purple across the city centre and people ‘took the knee’ in virtual solidarity from home. The fight for Black Lives Matters continues. How will you make a difference?

Natalie Denny

Placard with drawing of George Floyd and protest messages

Natalie’s George Floyd placard

protest crowd at St George's Hall

Natalie, back to camera, 2 June at St George’s Hall

Natalie’s George Floyd placard"I cried for weeks after George Floyd was killed. I was traumatised by his death and angry at the systemic and institutional racism that allows a murder like this to happen. I needed to attend the protest to show solidarity and express the rage of living under oppression environments that kill people that look like me just because of the colour of their skin.  

My protest sign of George Floyd is surrounded by the names of people who have died or been seriously injured due to police brutality from the USA and UK. The dates alongside are the day of their death/assaults. In between these names are examples of institutional racism that impacts on Black people's lives in health care, the justice system, employment sector etc:

No Justice No Peace, George Floyd, 26/05/2020

Institutional Racism

Belly Mujinga, 05/04/2020

Mzee Mohammed 13/07/2016

Covid-19

Eric Garner 17/07/2014

Philando Castile, 06/07/2016

School Exclusions

Sarah Reed, 11/01/2016

Police Brutality

Tony McDade, 27/05/2020

Employment

Shukri Abdi, 27/6/2019

Poor black history curriculum

Joy Gardner, 01/08/1993

Mental Health

Housing

David McAtee, 01/06/2020

Black women 5 times more likely to die in childbirth

Sandra Bland, 13/07/2015

Windrush Deportations

Julian Cole

Grenfell

Breonna Taylor, 13/03/2020

Stop and Search

Ahmaud Arbery, 23/02/2020

Belly Mujinga, 05/04/2020

I worked with my boyfriend Jon to complete this piece. George Floyd was a catalyst for an uprising that had been advancing for some time. George was centred in the sign to represent that but I wanted to ensure that systemic and institutional racism in the UK was not ignored. Racist systems have to be dismantled and new social solutions provided. Enough is enough."

Natalie with placard on steps of StGeorges Hall by drummers

Natalie, 13 June 2020, St George’s Hall

"My second sign, which I made for the march from L8 to St George’s Hall on 13 June is acknowledging the beauty in Black lives. They don't just matter; they inspire, improve and make the world a better place. I don't want Black people to seek only tolerance. We need acceptance and celebration too. This sign makes reference to the wonder of Black lives:

BLACK LIVES MATTER

BLACK LIVES INSPIRE

BLACK LIVES UPLIFT

BLACK LIVES BEAUTIFY

BLACK LIVES ARE WISDOM

BLACK LIVES REVOLUTIONISE

BLACK LIVES ARE LOVE

BLACK LIVES MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE"

Corrin Melia

woman holding placard above her head

Corrin with her placard, ‘Scousers Stand in Solidarity. Black Lives Matter’, 2 June. © Andy Teebay/Liverpool Echo

“I’m a 22 year old football coach from Huyton. I’ve been brought up within a family that has always instilled socialist values into me while growing up; being made aware from an early age that racism is something that should always be challenged no matter what. I moved to America in 2019 for three months for work. While there I got to meet so many amazing African American people and hearing their personal stories about the daily struggles they encounter from racism/police brutality absolutely broke my heart and made me realise I have to do everything I possibly can to make sure the Black community knows that I stand in solidarity, fighting side by side with them to end racism. 

The demonstration was nothing but peaceful, powerful and so moving. I have the upmost respect for the amazing people who organised it, and everyone who attended. I’m proud to come from a city that will always stand in solidarity in the face of adversity, ensuring to our Black communities that police brutality is NEVER okay and their lives have and will always matter.”

Dawn Jones

dawn holding her placard and a photo of the back

Dawn with her BLM placard, with quote from James Baldwin on the reverse, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced. BLM’ 

“I had to join the George Floyd vigil at St George’s Hall to show I support and understand the Black Lives Matter campaign. I absolutely think we all have to be actively doing something, making a stand against racism and historic racism. I’m still angry about things I personally witnessed in the 70s and forever since in real life or online, TV etc.
I show up at every anti-racism event that I can and so do my daughters. We don’t have racists in our lives knowingly and call them out whenever we can.
As a teenager growing up in the beautiful multicultural area that is Liverpool 8 in the 70s I had the best years any teenager could have, or so I thought. In reality it was plagued with systemic racism, blatant police brutality and discrimination.
Nothing has changed, it’s time to show up and be there for our global family, it’s time to act BAMN!
I had to be there because thousands wouldn’t.
I had to be there because all lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter!
I just had to be there.”

face mask with Black Lives Matter written on it

Dawn’s facemask: ‘Black Lives Matter!’

Ella and Frances Roose

mother and daughter holding placards

Ella and her daughter Frances at the protest at St George’s Hall holding their placards, ‘Statues do not educate, they celebrate. Christopher Columbus, you are next’. ‘I am marching so my friends grow up with the same chances as me’

“I grew up in South Liverpool in both Toxteth and Wavertree, so I’ve never been far removed from a multicultural society and I think that contributed to me growing up with a strong sense of social justice. I attended the George Floyd protest with a friend and the Black Lives Matter march with a group of friends and my daughter. I felt it was important for her to understand the struggles her school friends would grow up with, and how showing your support as an ally and using your position in society to enact change is really important. 

Both marches had powerful impacts on those who attended, you could hear the pain and frustration in the speakers voice about the daily battles they face as part of the BAME community in our city; struggles we don’t notice or experience because we are white. Ending systematic racism and oppression is long overdue, I just hope that the current movement doesn’t fade and the millions of angry voices around the world are able to see and experience the equality they have been fighting so hard for.”

girl holding placard

Frances, marching from L8 to St George’s Hall

Further information

Thank you so much to everyone who has come forward so far to kindly donate their placards and for very generously sharing their stories. If you would like to do the same please get in touch by email museumofliverpool@liverpoolmuseums.org.uk or on social media.