Wilton Manors' "Rally for the Remedy" showcased that our community's voice is strong and powerful.
Sunday, June 14, 2020, was a moment in history for the gayborhood Wilton Manors. The historical day signified that the town voices can indeed unite against injustice and advocate for social change not only nationwide but within the iconic Island City itself.
The peaceful protest brought out more than 400 LGBTQI protestors and their allies. The purpose of the rally organized by community members and spearheaded by prominent black gay nightlife promoter Anthony Winn of Anthony Winn Entertainment AWE and an impassioned Rico Wilson was to stand in solidarity against racial injustice, police brutality, and transphobia along with addressing racial concerns within the Wilton Manors community.
Rally attendees were first greeted with a powerful blessing by local singer, songwriter Shemuwel. The unapologetic black lives matter and gay rights activist spoke to the crowd directly from his heart relating the black man’s plight to his own personal identity as a black Hispanic man in South Florida. Shemuwel also brought attention to the disproportionate black trans lives that are lost to injustice and hate.
“This is our moment to educate the world on why we matter and if you’re here you’re saying to yourself, to your friends, and to your love ones that you understand why black lives matter,” Shemuwal voiced to the crowd of listeners. “Florida our numbers are tripling right now, this is crazy, the numbers are tripling with Coronavirus but our numbers of dying as black men and black trans women [are] also going up but we are not a virus so why are we doing the same numbers. That doesn't make any sense?”
Speakers John Buckley of CAOBA; a social mixer for Men of Color empowerment, Craig Prather, Jai Tahlea of the budding pro-artist/pro-protesting nonprofit TheUproar Project, Rico Wilson, and Anthony Winn added to the conversation with their individual stories of struggle, strength, and perseverance. Their stories were heartfelt as it relates to brown and black people living in America today. A lens into their lives and the fear and anxiety that lives within them on a daily basis.
It was their poignant remarks fresh in the minds of the crowd that ignited each and everyone’s voice as they marched down Wilton Drive from Hagen Park City Hall to 6th street and then back up to the park shouting “Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice, No Peace,” “Say There Names, George Floyd,” “Say There Names, Breonna Taylor.” Onlookers were equally passionate, joining in on the chants as the crowd moved as one.
Back at Hagen Park City Hall a moment of silence bent on one knee for the duration of time (8 minutes and 46 seconds) George Floyd was trapped under his predator’s, former Police Officer Derek Chauvin, unyielding knee stance quieted the crowd in a somber state-of-mind. The emotional moment transitioned into an uplifting experience when the Poet Butterfly (@soulfulpoet72) took to the stage and speak truth into power.
Accompanied by the radiating vocals of Brandon Sanders, Butterfly encouraged the crowd with fist in the air to stand strong amid the fight for racial justice. “Black Lives Matter” sung Sanders as he then proceeded to lend his voice to the topic, afterward allowing Butterfly to close out the rally.
“The fact that we been saying all this time ‘No Justice, No Peace’ with respect to the tune, that’s why we’re getting ‘No Justice, No Peace’,” roared Butterfly from the podium. “We need to change the narrative moment by moment, day by day, voice by voice, hashtag by hashtag, and that should be ‘Give Us Justice, Return Our Peace’!”
Rally for the Remedy was just the beginning of something bigger in Wilton Manors. Several of the community organizers of the peaceful protest are committed to furthering the racial equality that we need to see in the Island City in order to be a true representation of Unity in Diversity. The ambitious organizers are adamant in seeing a change with city officials, the police force, and the local businesses. Stay tuned, a call for change demands are in the works.
Rally for the Remedy would like to share the message from a guest speaker who didn’t have an opportunity to speak at the rally due to time constraints. Unapologetic LGBTQI activist, local drag star (Carmen Adore) and business owner (Hatz by Carlos) Carlos Armenteros speaks to the Wilton Manors business owners:
First, let me say thank you for allowing me to speak today. I am deeply saddened that it is under these circumstances, but I hear you, I am learning from you, I am with you in support, and I will use my voice to spread the message of social injustice that has plagued America for so long so we can work together to end it. The black community’s basic human rights have been ignored and challenged by people who define others by the color of their skin. Innocent lives are being taken by targeted police brutality, and in response to our cries for help and change, the true colors of many have been exposed.
The veil is lifted, and the world now gets to see those who retaliate and don’t believe in equality for all. The evil that exists is in the spotlight, desperately trying to defend their ignorant privilege, and silence voices that have screamed for decades. I am here today to use my voice as an activist. To speak up for things that are wrong and unfair. As a community, we all need to come together to make change – to educate others and make sure the right message is being addressed – with the right narrative.
The profiling and abuse of someone simply because of the color of their skin needs to become extinct. But it will not go away on its own. Not without acknowledging that it exists, teaching others how to read the signs, and calling out those who mean harm or to mistreat others. I call attention now to the businesses and restaurants in our city who have spoken out on behalf of our diverse community and genuinely supported the Black Lives Matter movement. They understand what’s going on in the world that we live in and show support to make it clear to our brothers and sisters that they don’t have to worry about being judged or profiled once they enter the sanctuary of their open doors.
To them, I say thank you for being the change we so desperately need. Thank you for standing up for *everyone*. It’s easy to preach equality - but to practice, it is where the change begins. Too often I hear stories of equality being tossed aside in our own town. When our friends simply want to enjoy the safe space here in Wilton Manors. This town is a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in South Florida, and it’s meant for all. Not some. Not just “skinny”. Not just “muscular”. Not just “masculine”. Not just “bears”. Not just “drag queens”. All. To be quiet during this time is irresponsible and the patrons that support your businesses are paying attention.
Rally for the Remedy would like to thank:
Community Members who helped in the organizing efforts
- Mark Rivera
- Bud Beehler
- Rusty John Carbaugh
Community Businesses in public support of the rally
- Lightship Media
- Hot Spots Media
- City of Wilton Manors Dot Com
- Cultural Owl
- BB Design
- OutClique Magazine
- LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- The Miami Herald
- USA Today
- Wilton Gazette
- The Pelican
**A special thank you to the team of the rally’s overall Sponsor WMEG who provided the manpower behind the scene, the power and sound system, water station, and the printed signs as well as the material for the “make your own signs.”