GREENVILLE — Azraelle Story was crossing the Rip Van Winkle Bridge on June 20 when her drive was temporarily interrupted by the Juneteenth Freedom March.
Story and her family sat mesmerized as a torrent of people marched past their car holding signs and chanting.
“My kids were inspired, my 100-year-old father in-law was inspired, I cried,” Story said. “My kids asked, ‘When are we going to do this in our town?’”
The experience galvanized Story to organize a Black Lives Matter rally at the George V. Vanderbilt Town Park in Greenville on Saturday, in solidarity with the Juneteenth marchers.
“If my kids notice the silence in our town, I can’t imagine how our black and brown neighbors are feeling,” she said.
Story and her family are expecting about 50 people to join them for the rally at noon Saturday, she said, acknowledging that the forecasted 90-degree temperatures might keep some people away.
But Story, whose father in-law is Story’s Nursery founder George Story, hopes the rally demonstrates that Greenville is no place for inequality.
Story faced intimidation and open hostility on social media while organizing the march. State police will be on hand to ensure marchers’ safety, she said.
People making threats on social media are “banking on fear” in an effort to force organizers to cancel, Story said.
Story distributed a flyer to advertise the event as a “peaceful demonstration in solidarity with minority communities locally and across the country.”
“This is a family protest, where we plan to show our support peacefully,” according to the flyer.
Marchers will be encouraged not to interact or engage with anyone passing by who is negative, Story said.
Story originally posted the flyer on a Facebook page for Greenville parents, but her post was removed by the page’s administrators, who said it had attracted negative comments, a claim she disputes.
“I saw nothing but positivity,” she said.