By Rianne Helms

This speech was delivered on June 25 at an Akron Minority Council rally. Rianne has shared the text of her speech with us so that we can publish it. Find Akron Minority Council President Bree Chambers’s speech from the same event here.

Hello, everyone. My name is Rianne Helms and I am the VP of AMC. I want to start by saying thank you for being here. For coming out despite the risks because it’s enormously important for us all. Racism is a public health crisis, afterall, and some people, the people that are supposed to protect and serve us, have it so bad that they are hurting and killing us. I want to thank you for coming out and helping us give a voice to those that do not have one. Now, sometimes when I say that we’re giving a voice to the voiceless, people say that everyone has a voice so it isn’t accurate but when I say voiceless, I don’t mean those living, we do all have a voice. I mean those who have been taken from us. They don’t have a voice anymore. They don’t have a life anymore. . . . They are the ones that need us to be here and be loud. We need to scream that Black Lives Matter until the people that turn the channel when we show up on the news keep hearing it from outside their windows. There will be no more ignoring us and every single person that came out here today is proving that. 

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I know that a lot of people have to deal with non-supporters screaming All Lives Matter right back at our protest. But don’t they know that we don’t need told that all lives matter? We don’t need told that not all cops are bad. Don’t they think we know better than anyone? Don’t they know it’s us who finally exhales when a cop doesn’t ask us to step out of the vehicle? When a cop keeps driving and their flashing lights don’t force us to stop and run through everything our parents taught us when being pulled over as a black citizen? Running through every death and everytime those safety precautions didn’t matter. Yeah, we know all cops aren’t bad. We know that all lives should matter. We don’t need to hear that though. We need to SEE that OUR. LIVES. DO. TOO. We need to SEE that NO cops are bad. We’re tired of hearing it, SHOW US. We’re tired of reading the private messages from the people in our lives claiming to support but are too afraid to speak up. We don’t want to hear it. SHOW US. Silence is siding with murderers. Silence is saying it’s okay. Their silence is deafening. They need to show us. Those of you that are out here are doing just that and I am so thankful to you. 

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I’m tired of hearing that change is going to come and we just need to wait for it. I’m tired of waiting. Is anyone else tired of waiting? What has waiting done for us? George Floyd waited until it was too late and there was nothing left to wait for. How long do you think he held on to hope that someone would do what was right? The whole 8 minutes and 46 seconds? Did he know help wasn’t coming or was he waiting? We don’t know because his voice is gone. But I don’t want to make anyone wait any longer because change is waiting too long. Change waited until more children went fatherless, more people lost a friend, and more siblings lost their brother or sister. No more waiting for change. We need to make change come. We are the change we’ve been waiting for and we always have been. No more waiting.

Rianne Helms is the vice president of Akron Minority Council.

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