73ºF

Hundreds gather for prayer vigils, peaceful march Saturday in Roanoke

Mission is to “come together unified” for healing

ROANOKE, Va. – Two separate peaceful demonstrations brought people from all over the Roanoke Valley together on Saturday, standing in solidarity in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.

Hands were held high in prayer and voices harmonized together in song.

Hundreds gathered in downtown Roanoke on Saturday afternoon to pray for peace, justice and unity. The group marched from the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial to First Baptist Church-Gainsboro to hear from religious leaders from across the Star City.

Candace Dowell, an associate minister at Shiloh Baptist Church in Salem, said it’s empowering to see everyone put aside their differences.

“Just to see people come together and love one another of every race, every color, every creed. This is amazing," said Dowell.

Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman even took the podium.

“Today I am calling you out. I am calling you out as a bystander to help break the back of racism,” said Roman.

Back at the memorial, another prayer vigil was held at 6 p.m. and brought together more than 100 other locals.

Roanoke Branch NAACP President Brenda Hale said everyone needs to stay committed to the cause to end systemic racism.

“Education, economic empowerment, justice in the courtroom and we need more training for police officers,” said Hale.

All ages, genders and races came together, fighting and hoping for change.

“To lock arms and join together and fight this good fight," said Dowell.

UPDATE 6:00 P.M.

A group is gathered in prayer at a vigil in Roanoke on Saturday, the second one of the day.

This second event started at 6 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial statue in downtown Roanoke. It’s organized by the Roanoke chapter of the SCLC and the Roanoke branch of the NAACP.

Earlier on Saturday, hundreds came together at the same spot with one common goal: to heal the country and get justice for every life that has been taken.

The crowd joined together in prayer then marched up the street to the Gainsboro First Baptist Church.

They heard from pastors all over the valley, Roanoke mayor Sherman Lea and Roanoke City police chief Sam Roman.

Organizers said they’re not here to fight or be violent, just come together in unity.

“We decided it just to come together just to make one sound to pray together to worship together,” said Cecil Scott, pastor with The Vine Church.

“...Hoping to learn, hoping to grow, hoping to understand what’s going on better and hoping to represent something better for this world,” said Samuel Belcher, who attended the vigil.

One preacher said that black lives matter. They’re not saying all lives don’t matter, but black lives are in crisis, and they need people from all backgrounds to come together and work toward a solution.

UPDATE 4:30 P.M.

Here’s a look at the first prayer vigil and peaceful march in Roanoke on Saturday, hosted by Sisters of Change:

Attendees hold signs at the first prayer vigil and peaceful march in Roanoke on Saturday, hosted by Sisters of Change.
Attendees hold signs at the first prayer vigil and peaceful march in Roanoke on Saturday, hosted by Sisters of Change. (WSLS)

ORIGINAL STORY

Several groups planned events in Roanoke on Saturday to come together in prayer and in peaceful march.

There is a prayer vigil and peaceful march planned by Sisters of Change in Roanoke starting at 4 p.m. The group plans to meet at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in downtown Roanoke and then do a “prayer march” to First Baptist Church Gainsboro on N Jefferson Street.

Organizers said about 20 different local churches will be present at the event. They said their one mission is to “come together unified” for healing.

There is another prayer vigil planned for 6 p.m. This event is organized by the Roanoke chapter of the SCLC and the Roanoke branch of the NAACP. It’s also happening at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in downtown Roanoke.


About the Authors: