JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – BLM 5K held its first walk/run event Saturday night in the River City.
The race, put on by a separate organization from Black Lives Matter Jacksonville, was in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and aimed to give those who don’t want to protest a chance to have their voices heard.
“I really appreciated all of the street protests over the summer, and I wanted to have a way to continue participating,” runner Cathy Fitzpatrick said. “I was not looking for the protest, like, gosh, they have to do something else, but when they did, I thought, ‘Hey, that was a good idea.’”
The event included food, vendors and voter registration drives.
At least a thousand people had come out for the event as of 6 p.m., and organizers said they do have safety measures in place for the runners, who took off underneath the Main Street Bridge.
They separated the race into waves of 100, starting 5 minutes apart.
They didn’t allow any day-of registrations and enforced social distancing rules where runners came in to pick up their packets.
Once runners finish the race, they are asked to put their masks back on.
Organizer and founder of BLM 5K Tanisha Crisp said it was amazing to see the first wave of runners take off after all their hard work to make it happen.
“Everyone feels safe. Everyone feels like they can support the Black Lives Matter movement, so that’s the No. 1 goal here -- and to honor the Black community, to give back to the Black community,” Crisp said.
Crisp said they are going to distribute the proceeds and donations from the 5K between at least 10 local Black families suffering from poverty to help with rent and living expenses.
“We know it’s a good thing. The money that’s being raised is going towards a good cause," runner Lamarr Payne said.
Payne brought his 5-year-old grandson to the race.
“The message is still clear. One thing is that he came here with me. I probably won’t see a change in my lifetime, but his lifetime, my grandson, it definitely should happen, and he’s starting it. He’s seeing it. He’s part of it at five years of age," Payne said.
Vendors said participating in Saturday’s 5K pushed the purpose of the event.
“Talk about why your business benefits the black community,” News4Jax reporter Marilyn Parker asked Dominique Cleveland, owner of True Dreams Financial.
“It benefits the Black community because growing up, a lot of people don’t have good credit,” Cleveland said. “They don’t understand the importance of having good credit. They’re not taught the benefits of having good credit, especially in the Black community. So what we try to do is normalize it.”
One nonprofit aims to give fatherless children a resource to connect with.
“A lot of the effects from having fatherless children have been affecting and plaguing the Black community for years now, such as incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse,” said Don Adams II, founder of Finding Fathers Inc. “A lot of those things that are happening in the Black community now are because of fatherless homes, and me starting this organization is going to help combat that.”
Organizers said they wanted a positive and progressive approach to supporting this movement, and they said it starts by bringing the community in. They also had a tent set up for registering voters. The founder of the event said they are working on the next 5K coming up soon in another city, but couldn’t say which.