On Sunday, October 31, local activist and artist Lavish Mack started a one-month journey from Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered, to Louisville, Kentucky, where Breonna Taylor was murdered, both at the hands of the state’s police.
Walking as a way of protest is nothing new. In July, Minneapolis welcomed Terry Willis on his 1,000-mile trek from his home in Alabama to the George Floyd memorial in protest against racial injustice, and specifically police brutality.
Historically, walking has been one of the most powerful forms of peaceful protest. One of the most famous was James Meredith’s “March against Fear” in 1966 in which he walked 220 miles from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi. Meredith was shot along the way, but the march was picked up and continued by others led by SNCC and the SCLC.
Marches have played a significant role in the fight for justice throughout U.S. history, like the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Marches.
Mack is a product of this history himself. “I have a grandfather that was a Black Panther, another great-great uncle that was a Tuskegee Airmen. I have a great auntie that was an attorney on the [Brown vs. Board of Education] case; I have a lot of activism on my mom’s side. I’ve always had that background,” he said.
Mack is a resident of South Minneapolis, growing up just a few blocks away from the George Floyd memorial. “I used to go to Cup Foods all the time.” He said it was the tragedy of George Floyd’s death in the place that Mack has called home that sparked a new fire in his outreach.
Previously an impassioned recording artist, Mack responded to this particular moment in time with a surge of purpose, sparking an entirely new way of life. “The Rock says sometimes your biggest blessing is failing at what you wanted most,” he said as he explained the personal courage that it took for him to transition from music into more intentional social justice work. “Timing is everything,” he said. “It’s divine timing.”
Mack has positioned himself as a police violence activist for the better part of 2020, following the protest that was a direct response to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd back in May. “I just had to go. It felt like it was my responsibility. Then I just never stopped. I just kept staying outside.”
Not only has Mack been on the front lines in both rallies and riots, but he’s also had his own encounters with the criminal justice system in these recent months. “I got arrested on the Washington Avenue Bridge right by Bobby and Steve’s, and we were on this jail bus for like seven hours. They processed us but didn’t have enough room to put us all in jail,” he said. “But I was back at it again the next day.”
While Mack is just one individual, many other millennials are also responding to the call of social justice in 2020. Mack encourages other young people and the community at large to get in where they fit in. “There are different ways to do it. You don’t have to be in the streets. If you don’t want to give up your time, give up your money,” he suggested.
Mack also offered some key advice when it comes to activism, especially as individuals. “Think about what it is you want to do, and then think about the how and why.”
Although an avid protester, he pointed out that it’s important to pay attention to the establishment. “People don’t like politics,” he said. “But politicians bet on the fact that you don’t know politics. And if you don’t understand politics, then they can do anything to you.
“Sometimes we gotta do what we gotta do in order to get what we need to get.”
Follow Mack on his journey via his social media platforms or by following Journey of Justice on Facebook: www.facebook.com/JourneytoJusticeMN.