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Canton protesters add their voices to calls for justice

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As Black Lives Matter protests continue all across the world, calling for justice for George Floyd and end to police brutality, local protesters are adding their voices to the conversation.

One such protest took place Saturday in Canton, Missouri.

Organized by 17-year-old Za'Raeah Stallings, she said the time for silence is over.

"We need to speak up and not be silent anymore," she said. "This is what we should do because no one in Canton has done it and people just need to know what's actually is going on."

Stallings said the protests harken back an important aspect of her life: the former Lincoln School for black children in Canton where she helps her grandmother show people what classes were like during segregation.

Stallings said aspects that culture are still alive in America today.

"It all takes back to time back then and how mindsets haven't changed," she said.

Phyllis Dean, Stallings' grandmother and Lincoln School overseer, said it's hard for people who aren't black to understand what black people face now.

"They will never walk in the shoes of a African American person so they really could never understand that without having that conversation," she said.

Stallings and Dean were joined by Stalling's close friend Hannah Rieffer.

"I love her to death," Rieffer said. "She's always been there for me and supporting me and it hurts me how people could look at her and not see what I see because they're blinded by the color of her skin."

Stallings said it's through that same spirit of understanding that she hopes more people can understand and bring about substantive change.

"Just because we scream and shout 'black lives matter' doesn't mean that all all lives don't matter," she said. "All lives aren't going to matter until black lives start mattering to people. They haven't mattered to people for this long so we need that to change and that's all we're saying."

Dean said segregated classes ended at the Lincoln School in 1955 after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.

Before then students who wished to continue their education had to travel all the way to Hannibal just to go to school.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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