- Emma Marden
Emma Marden, 14, of Shelburne is not afraid of uncomfortable conversations. In fact, she thinks we should be having them more often. As one of the only Black students at the Shelburne Community School, she often feels isolated. "No one else understands what it's like to be the only person of color in a classroom," she said, explaining that it makes it more difficult to connect with her peers at times.
After George Floyd's death in Minneapolis sparked a call for police reform, rallies and protests have been held all over Vermont, where people have been having uncomfortable conversations and asking difficult questions. When Marden attended a rally in Charlotte, she asked a question of her own: "Can this happen in my community?"
She approached the organizers at the rally and asked for advice on how to organize her own event. With the help of her mom and a few other women, she got to work. "Even though Shelburne is small, it's just as important to me to advocate for change."
The rally took place on June 19, and even though school was out of session, more than 300 people gathered in the bus circle of Shelburne Community School to advocate for change and raise a Black Lives Matter flag in front of the building. Marden considers the event a huge success because it had an impact on people and on her. "It was so great to see everyone stand by me and support me in this movement," she said. "It felt like those isolating feelings were gone, and it felt amazing to have the community stand by me and raise the flag."
This isn't the end of advocacy work for Marden. She'll be attending Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg in the fall and plans to continue to speak up about injustices and urge people to donate to organizations that support the Black Lives Matter movement. "Change can happen anywhere, any time, starting with anyone," she said. "It's time for us to make a change."