Black Lives Matter Fargo-Moorhead working toward racial equity across the metro
Faith Dixon and Jamaal Abegaz say they're meeting on a weekly basis with city officials to ensure concrete changes are in the works
FARGO, N.D. — George Floyd’s killing more than a month ago has sparked a movement calling for racial justice felt globally.
Here in the metro, some of the most prominent voices demanding change are those behind the local chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Faith Dixon and Jamaal Abegaz of Fargo say real change doesn’t happen overnight.
Through Black Lives Matter Fargo-Moorhead, they’re working with city leaders to ensure conversations turn into actions that pave a way forward.
“It’s been very positive so far,” says Dixon. “We are really excited to be working with them. We know that it does take time, so we’re just hoping and we’re still in dialogue with the city officials.”
Talks between Black Lives Matter, city officials and law enforcement revolve around a list of 12 demands the group has presented.
In part, they include banning the use of choke holds within our local police departments, requiring officers to wear body cameras, creating police oversight boards, implementing diversity training and resources within public schools and expanding representation of marginalized communities on city boards.
“What we’re looking for is intentionality from the cities to make sure that those voices are heard and that they have access to power,” says Abegaz.
Although the road toward progress isn’t easy nor short, both Dixon and Abegaz say they want to make it happen for the community they love.
Abegaz says, “We’re not domestic terrorists. We are not thugs. We are citizens of this community. We love this community, and we want to see it grow. We want to see diversity, and we want to see people be able to be treated the same.”
“To be able to look at my family and my nieces and nephews and say, ‘Change is coming,’ kind of outweighs the negativity that I’ve received from some people,” adds Dixon.
She says now is the time for everyone, especially women and girls of color, to stand up for what they believe in.
“I don’t want to consider myself as a role model, but I know that it comes with the territory, and I am just so pleased and honored to be able to be in the role and be a black woman of color to be able to show young girls and show women that, ‘Yes, our voices can be heard.'”
They say real change will only be possible when those in power hold themselves accountable.
“Both in holding themselves accountable at the highest levels, as well as holding those who are in the rank and file accountable to missions, which many organizations say that they have with they’re dedicated to diversity and things like that” says Abegaz. “It’s put up or shut up time.”
Watch the full interview below: