Waxahachie, A North Texas Town 'Divided By A Railroad Track,' Marches For Black Lives | KERA News

Waxahachie, A North Texas Town 'Divided By A Railroad Track,' Marches For Black Lives

Jun 7, 2020

Lillian Ayro, a mother of three boys and three girls, elevated her voice so the crowd gathered in the Ellis County Courthouse square could hear her share what it's like to be an African American parent.

"Every time my children leave out the door, I am not like my white sisters who don't worry about it. I worry." 

"I hope that everything is OK," she said. "If it's after dark, I pray to the good Lord that they make it back home safely."

Ayro, the pastor of Experiencing Life Church and small business owner in the nearby town of Ennis, was at a Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday in Waxahachie. About 60 people marched, chanting "black lives matter" and "no justice, no peace."

Then they spent 8 minutes and 46 seconds in silence — the amount of time a Minnesota cop was seen on a video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd.

Protesters at a Black Lives Matter demonstration and rally in Waxahachie, Texas, on Saturday, June 6, 2020.
Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Cheltsey Malone, 28, organized the march and protest. She moved to Waxahachie, a city of about 38,000 about 30 miles south of Dallas, about five years ago and says she grew up in a mixed-race family.

"I can't make the walk. I have a lot of respiratory issues, so I wanted to do everything that I could to enable others to do what they could," she said.

Malone said she wasn’t sure what to expect when she decided to organize the three-mile march. Some Waxahachie police officers escorted the marchers and joined them at the courthouse.

"A small Texas town in the Bible belt that actually has an east side divided by a railroad track, I mean we weren’t expecting this kind of support," she said.

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Protesters at the Black Lives Matter march and rally in downtown Waxahachie, Texas, on Saturday, June 6, 2020.
Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The march began at Finley Junior High, named after Eddie Finley Sr., an African American educator who taught in Waxahachie for nearly 20 years, 16 of those as a high school and middle school principal.

There was a previous protest in Waxahachie on Thursday; one in fellow Ellis County town of Red Oak, just north of Waxahachie; and another protest in Ennis.

"Normally, when you think of protests and marches like this, it’s for big towns," Malone said. "So when I saw that Ennis had the guts to organize, I was like, 'Let's do this.'"

Malone says she hopes this march will spur other young adults to become more involved in city issues and vote.