A single calm voice can echo like thunder in the face of adversity.
Mariah McAlpin was that voice Wednesday, June 10, as she led a peaceful demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on the lawn of the Page County Courthouse in Clarinda. A crowd estimated at 200 people attended the event to promote the importance of racial equality in all cities, big and small.
"I feel people in this community can help fix this problem. A lot of people want to do something, they just don't know how or where to begin," McAlpin said. "I'm hoping, with this, they'll be able to reach out to their neighbors a little bit more and welcome them a little bit more into the community."
Born in Clarinda, McAlpin was raised near Braddyville and is a 2012 graduate of South Page High School. Although she now lives in Clearmont, Mo., with her husband, Bryson, and their two children, McAlpin said she still considers Clarinda to be her hometown.
"This has always been my community and my home," McAlpin said. "I wanted to have this in this community because I think it's important for people in this community to see there's a problem that's here too."
McAlpin said she was inspired to hold the event in Clarinda after attending a similar Black Lives Matter protest held Saturday, June 6, in Maryville, Mo.
"It was such a great experience. It was so peaceful. There were families there and it was really nice," McAlpin said.
Originally, McAlpin said she and her family just planned to stand with signs to draw awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement. However, as word of the event in Clarinda spread, the level of support grew and resulted in the large turnout Wednesday.
"I am so excited about all these people showing up. It's awesome," McAlpin said. "This is enough to show there is an awareness, and people care."
Among those who attended the demonstration were Clarinda residents Lindsay Darrah, Emma McCormick and Madeline Sics. The ladies said they attended the protest to show their support for McAlpin and the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I feel like it's my duty to help people understand it," Sics said.
"It's hard for them. They try to get their voice out in whatever they do and we're supporting them the best we can," Darrah said.
"It's our job to stand up for what's right," McCormick said.
During her opening remarks Wednesday, McAlpin said she has personally been confronted with racism. She said racism is a topic that must be openly discussed.
"Racism must be discussed in the homes and explained, or it will be so easy for young minds to not understand or recognize when racism is happening in front of them or even when they are doing it themselves,” McAlpin said. “Racism is taught and it can be untaught."
Following comments by a few other members of the crowd, McAlpin concluded the protest by leading the crowd in a march around the courthouse as the participants showed signs of support for the movement.
"A change needs to happen. It has to," McAlpin said. “Otherwise, there is no way for us to have a better future if something different is not done now.”