KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- This Fourth of July, crowds spent time spreading awareness about injustice.
KCTV5’s Kaci Jones was still at Mill Creek Park at 10 p.m. and people were gathered there.
The protests throughout the day had a common theme of irony.
As we celebrate “liberty and justice for all,” some said those words don’t apply to all Americans and it’s time for change.
On America’s birthday, Kansas City resident Marilyn Carpenter skipped the barbecues.
“I would say that we can’t ever enjoy our privileged lives while there are people that are suffering just because they have a different skin color,” she said.
A few hours later, a group gathered in the same spot to demand justice for Vanessa Guillen. Guillen was a 20-year-old Fort Hood solider whose body was found earlier this week. Loved ones say she was being sexually harassed on the base.
“Vanessa went missing in April,” said Sandra Velasquez. “If she were a rifle or binoculars, they would’ve shut everything down to look for her, and it’s now July and they just barely found her. We want to bring awareness that women that report can get reprimanded.”
That group joined a larger rally in support of freedom that was organized by the KC Community Bail Fund, One Struggle KC, and more local advocacy groups.
A speaker read Frederick Douglass’ speech entitled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” in front of hundreds of people. Some said the words from 1852 still ring true today.
Lawyer Stacey Shaw said, “You see it in corporations. You see it with the renaming of football teams. You see with equity in boardrooms, courtrooms. . . . We have a long way to go, and this is not just a Black problem because injustice in one place means that none of us have justice.”
The group marched down newly renamed Mill Creek Parkway with the message that liberty and justice does not apply to all.
“We feel that no one is free until we all are free,” said Chloe Cooper with the KC Community Bail Fund. “Free from systemic racism, police brutality, an unequal education system… I could go on and on, but this truly does not feel like Independence Day because people of color are not.”
As people of all races are uniting against a system many say was built to oppress people of color, Carpenter hopes the energy encourages the nation to make a change -- especially in a big election year.
“We’re not ever going to enjoy it until we get some kind of equality,” Carpenter said.
The advocacy groups will be hosting voter registration drives to push people to go to the polls, not just in presidential elections but also in local ones. The deadline to register to vote in the August 4 primary in KC is July 8.