COLUMBUS (WCMH) — For Tyara Thomas, a prayer event seemed like the perfect place to show her son, David, the action going on in the community.
“I knew it would be peaceful so I wanted to bring them for that reason; but, just to see people that look like them standing in unity with them,” she said. “It does something inside to them when you know you’re not alone.”
David was far from alone. Supporters and prayers filled the steps to City Hall in downtown Columbus for the event put on by the African American Male Wellness Initiative.
“What we know is prayer works. So today we are having a prayer for black men,” said Perry Gregory, a member of the group. “We hope with prayer that we will start putting some solutions together to really target the inequities in African American men.”
Many took the bullhorn to speak on those inequities, and how there are two racial crises right now: police brutality and COVID-19.
“The disproportionate impact of coronavirus on people of color, it’s a symptom of a larger systemic issue and that’s racism and that is poverty and that is discrimination,” said Dr. Darrell Gray, a physician at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.
“Both of those things are linked: the disparities we see in the COVID-19 pandemic and what we see with police brutality,” added Dr. Joshua Joseph, an assistant professor of medicine at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “They both have the common sources. And we have to take care of those sources, and that’s why it’s important.”
Community and religious leaders at the event also made it clear: this support, this conversation cannot end tonight, tomorrow, or in the coming weeks, months, or years.
“We have to keep it going beyond this, beyond the crisis. One way we keep it going is, as was mentioned today, holding everyone accountable,” said Bishop Harold Rayford. “We saw people coming together, the mayor was here, the chief of police was here, and the heard us pray not only against racism but for everybody involved in this very real test that we’re facing.”
After speeches were made, the group came together in prayer, alongside Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. They prayed for the mayor, they prayed for the police, and they prayed for Columbus.
Tyara said she was happy she got to experience this moment with her son and pray alongside him for his future and for the future of the community.
“For unity, not just for black people to come together, but for all of us to come together as a human race,” she said.
And what did David pray for?
“For the world to be better!” he exclaimed.
The African American Male Wellness Initiative is still have its 17th annual walk this year on Aug. 8.