Two Years Later, Warrenton’s BLM Vigil Stands Strong

Two vigil attendees proudly display their signs.

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Two vigil attendees proudly display their signs.

In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement was pushed to the forefront of American minds, and for many it stayed there. The Black Lives Matter Vigil For Action has met every Saturday since June 2020 outside the courthouse to stand in solidarity with the antiracist movement.

Scott Christain, the current organizer, says the Vigil was born from a fear that “nothing would happen [to the] momentum and energy” of the movement. “What’s a way we can keep it alive?” said Christain. The meetings began to accomplish this goal, and have continued to experience good turnout since, topping out at about forty people on August 27, 2022.

“I need to put my body out here and hold a sign and do some concrete work,” Christian said. On Saturday, attendees come to bear witness to the truth of racial injustice. For the rest of the week, they are advised by Christian to do at least two things for racial justice, with outside events such as the Juneteenth celebration discussed at the post-Vigil meeting.

The Vigil itself is not tied to any specific organization. It is backed by six different sponsors: Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier, Virginia Interfaith Center, League of Women Voters, Coming to the Table, Piedmont Race Amity Project, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The attendees are often from one or more of these associations and work with them throughout the week.

The League of Women Voters frequently makes base with the Vigil, registering voters and keeping the crowd up to date with local election news. Speaker Barbara Amster sympathizes with the angst teenagers feel today: “What kids say is that nobody cares about us…they care about us when they’re telling us we can’t do something…there’s some truth to that,” said Amster. However, she said “wonderful, magic” freedom to vote gives ignored voices a chance.. “If you don’t want bans on what you can think, and feel, and do, then register!” said Amster.

A group of All Lives Matter protestors often gathers on the opposite side of the street, but the policy of the Vigil is to remain peaceful. Even last week, when a man leaned from his truck to shout “Look at all those losers,” the crowd said back, “I love you!”

Attendees say that coming to touch base with their community is encouraging. “The progress will pay off in the long run,” says attendee Reverend Vini Holland.

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