It is Time to Listen


I went to a vigil on Saturday. I went to listen. Black lives matter. I was there to listen. George Floyd…

The vigil was to begin at 6 pm on the Dartmouth College green.  A nearly perfect early summer day in New Hampshire at a quintessential college setting. An Ivy league college. The campus and the town of Hanover should have been brimming with activity on a Saturday in late May. Not this day. Not now. Not in 2020. 

Nearly 12 years ago to the day I stood on the same green with my daughter. We were attending a running camp in Vermont and enjoyed the coaching, running on the Appalachian Trail, track workouts, mischief, laughter and a very special shared memory for a lifetime. We were doing running drills around the green and our only worry was dodging some traffic. I never imagined this night, this event, a vigil as we freely navigated our way around the green many years ago. A vigil for an innocent young black man named George Floyd murdered while in custody by police officers in Minnesota. His crime? Passing a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. Did he even know it was counterfeit? We simply don’t know. Even if he did.  Twenty dollars…that’s all. Twenty dollars.

Joining friends as we made our way from the parking lot to the vigil I wondered about attendance. Normally sans a pandemic I would have imagined a sizable crowd. Students, professors, residents and interested people from outside Hanover. A very curious time in nearly every way. Things appeared as usual, but they certainly aren’t normal. A few restaurants were offering outdoor seating as we walked to the green. Cars with cardboard signs of support propped up in their windows made visible to passerby’s. Honking in acknowledgement of the vigil. A clear cobalt blue sky in command at 6pm Saturday evening. The common cautiously filled. People respected the safe and social distance between one another, yet we were all close together in heart and mind. Masks and signs were equally unique in design, but their messages were consistent.

The speakers were passionate and eloquent as their voices rose to be heard. Sharing experiences in hopes of elevating the group’s awareness of life in black America. Sadness filled the somber air as we spoke the far too many names aloud of those that had died untimely and violent deaths. The plea for action was clear “If you see something say something.” A simple request that will usher in profound and positive change. Lives will be saved. This is a responsibility we all must share to effect change. The embrace of a mother holding her young teenage son after he bravely spoke to the group about his heartfelt fears. Wisdom born of pain. 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr

The Floyd family attorney spoke after the independent autopsy results were made public today indicating Mr. Floyd’s death a homicide due to ‘asphyxiation from sustained pressure.’

“Take a breath for George…”

“Take a breath for peace …”

“Take a breath for justice…”

                                                         Vote November 3rd….

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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