Naee Williams, who organized Hutchinson’s June BLM rally, says the event brought passion for justice that has not yet translated to action. Photo courtesy of Hutch in Harmony.
By Kyran Crist / Online Editor
When asked what it was like to be Black while living in Hutchinson, Naee Williams said that she was aware that the town is not very diverse.
“I don’t think I saw another person of color until I was walking out of Walmart about six months after I had moved here in January of last year,” said Williams, who is the head organizer for Hutch in Harmony, a local civil rights group. “I was walking out and this older Black lady looked at me and stopped to do another take.”
Williams moved here in Jan. 2019 from Texas, going from a diverse area to small-town Hutchinson. Williams said it was a change she was aware of.
“The community wasn’t so much more diverse, I was one of three Black kids in my class growing up,” Williams said. “But people knew their boundaries there.”
“The people, well the white people I guess since they make up the majority, here seem to be arrogant and want to have their say so, and it’s their way or the highway,” Williams said, “They don’t listen to listen, they listen to respond.”
Williams said aside from the ignorance and eyeballing from some people, she hadn’t had much commotion until the murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in late February of this year, when she was seeing some hateful comments about his murder.
Williams said that being outspoken, she took a stand against some of the comments and posted about it. Then, shortly after, the murder of George Floyd in May in Minnesota, Willaims decided she needed to take a stance and organized a protest in Hutchinson.
She reached out to various groups and told them what she was planning on and invited them to help if they wanted.
“I received a lot more support than I thought I was going to,” Williams said. “People and organizations reached out and said they would love to help. Hutch in Harmony, NAACP, (Hutchinson Police Department), lots of speakers, I think the turnout was more than 300 people.”
Williams said it opened up minds and hearts, and brought new connections and friendships. Her energy and passion for justice and change caught the eyes of Hutch in Harmony, and the group invited her on their team and Williams is now the head event coordinator for the group.
But even though the connections and voices that were brought through the protest, she said as soon as the fire was out and people were back to their day to day, the words and what they said had seemed to be nothing but words.
“The action wasn’t there,” Williams said.
When asked if this seems to be more of an issue here than where she lived before, Williams said, “Honestly not more of an issue, but you do have people following their political mindsets and only following that. There isn’t a lot of room for open-mindedness, but I think that’s the issue itself all around not just here in Hutch.”