SPOKANE, Wash. – Liberty Park in East Central Spokane played host to a barbecue organized by leaders in Spokane’s Black community on Saturday.
“This is almost like a moment of exhale,” said Shon Davis. “We’ve been holding our breath hoping for something like this, and now we have it.”
Davis is the senior pastor at Jesus Is The Answer City Church, and one of the coordinators of Saturday’s “By Us, For Us” barbecue.
“It’s the old backyard barbeque–dominoes, playing cards, good food, good music,” Davis said. “It’s a family reunion. It’s the grandmamas pulling us to the side to help us recognize people that we didn’t even know were a part of our family. That’s what you see around here today.”
Davis says he and other pastors and community leaders recognize the work done by several Black Americans in Spokane, but sees what he calls “multiple different streams.”
“We’re existing, but we’re not really making change,” Davis said.
So Davis says their conversations became centered on how to bring those streams together into a river.
“Because we know that a river has more force, more thrust, and therefore it moves things down the road,” Shon Davis said.
William Davis provides gang education and outreach in Spokane and surrounding communities. He called Saturday’s turnout “enlightening.”
“Today is about collaboration. It’s about getting everybody together to understand that we need to take care of a lot of different problems,” William Davis said. “We haven’t been together in a while. There’s been a break in the community togetherness.
“Somebody said not too long ago people are more selfish and self-centered now than they were 15, 20, 30, 40 years ago,” William Davis continued. “Now it’s more, ‘I’ll take care of mine, you take care of yours,’ which is not good for this city.”
A main focus of the gathering? Providing a positive example for kids.
“It still takes a village to raise each and every one of those kids, and we’re going to become that village,” Shon Davis said. “Instead of us being divided, we’re going to create those barriers so our kids can see that no matter where you are in this city, what you’re going through, all of us are going to father you and we’re going to help you succeed in this community.”
Honoring longtime Spokane pastors and leaders in the Black community, Happy Watkins and Ezra Kinlow—a way for organizers to help the next generation hear their elders’ stories.
“What you’re fighting for today, there’s people that have already fought for these issues and created opportunities for you to be able to have the success in what you’re doing today,” Shon Davis said.
“If we can do anything, let’s stay together, let’s keep the churches alive, and let’s make this community grow real good,” Happy Watkins said to the crowd.
“Let’s look forward to the future,” Ezra Kinlow said. “I can see you in the future, and you look a whole lot better!”