On the heels of a BLM rally that garnered national attention, Delegate Danielle Walker has a lot more to say.
Danielle Walker has been called the N-word before. But she’s never been called an ape. And she’s never been called an N-word with the vitriol and hate that she saw in the eyes of the men who hurled those insults at her during a fiery clash at a September 12 Kingwood Black Lives Matter rally. At that rally, Walker was more scared than she’s ever been in her life. Today, she is hopeful.
She’s hopeful that the fallout of that day leads to a room full of people from different backgrounds and skin colors. She admits that the table in that room will be an uncomfortable place to sit. But sitting there is necessary to make real changes.
Members of the Kingwood counterprotest group will be seated with Walker at that table, she hopes. “Once we are in that room we must listen, learn, love, and lead,” she says. “In making a change, and standing for change, there will always be uncomfortable moments. An uncomfortable moment is worth it for a movement. We may not be able to see what that movement is, but we hope for a diverse and inclusive West Virginia with equity for all.”
Walker penned a letter to Governor Jim Justice asking that he condemn the white supremacist beliefs of the counterprotestors who were in Kingwood that day. She also hopes he visits the community, and she looks forward to a day when all of her fellow elected officials must complete diversity, anti-racism, and inclusivity training.
“We can only do better if we know better, and times change really fast,” Walker says. And of that video that’s circulated widely on social media in recent weeks, Walker says it shows only part of what she had to say.
“When I was growing up in a Black family, my grandmother would always call those of us that needed to hear something a little bit more clearly to the front. That day I called the Black people to the front and asked the white people to step back. I needed the Black people to hear my message, and I needed the white people to see who they need to protect every single day of their lives. At school. At church. At work. And I thanked them for being there. For loving each and every one of us.”
Justice’s response to Walker included facilitating a conversation between her and the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, a state organization committed to pushing for “respect, tolerance, and mutual understanding among all citizens of West Virginia regardless of their race, gender, religious persuasion, ethnicity, or disability.” The Commission requested that Walker compile a list of actions to combat racism in the state to present to the governor. She’s hoping to submit that list—including a table to begin the discussion, training for state officials, and expanding the West Virginia Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs—this week.