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Community dance and drum group encourages healing during Shaker Heights protest

Posted at 9:26 PM, Jun 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-13 23:20:22-04

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — There’s a feeling of relief and intensifying energy that comes over Talisa Campbell as the sound of African drums echoes through her body.

“I don’t care what color you are, who you identify with, that energy is within,” said Campbell, Executive Director of Djapo Cultural Arts Institute.

Those at Shaker Square Saturday afternoon felt it too.

“Everybody here could feel that intensifying energy and that’s what brought us together today,” Campbell said.

Campbell’s group was invited to spark healing among hundreds of protesters during a demonstration demanding justice for George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Desmond Franklin and countless others.

“This is very, very important for us, which is a pivotal time for us to come out for something as important as Black Lives Matter,” she said.

But healing is not easy.

One speaker told the crowd, “It has been too much, it has been too long and as women the conduit through which every living human has come through today, we stand and say enough is enough.”

Many say equality and change is needed before healing can begin.

“Michael Harriet, who writes for the Root, said the other day, interviewers have been asking 'Why was it this one straw that broke the camel’s back?' And he responded by saying 'It’s the millions of other straws underneath.' It’s not just now. I think that our allies are showing up for us," organizer Meredith Turner said. "I think white America has to take accountability for what’s happening. It’s going to take an allyship from the whole country to address this pandemic of racism.”

But Campbell believes everyone coming together, which is what “Djabpo” stands for in the Wolof language, is a good first step.

“I really hope that people leave here with their eyes open and their ears open and they’re not able to be able to experience what people of color, what black folks, have been experiencing,” she said.

Many have been asking what’s next, what comes after the protests?

Organizers on Saturday were pushing for change at the polls in November by encouraging everyone who came out to register to vote, complete their census and reach out to local and government leaders demanding policy and police reform.