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MSD Alum Leads Solidarity Walk Through Parkland

Gerard Albert III
Kadeem Rowe organized the protest through Parkland and Coral Springs.

Over the weekend about 50 people marched from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland to the Coral Springs police station, about three miles away. 

One of the issues this march focused on was the problem of racial profiling, especially in the streets of a mostly-white neighborhood.

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Kadeem Rowe in his Phi Beta Sigma letters.

Kadeem Rowe organized the march and went to school in Parkland. He was class president at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and graduated in 2013. He said he was usually one of the only Black kids in his class.

“When you're the only Black person and you're experiencing racism, it's hard to — and you're a child — and it's hard to, you know, really like put it in perspective as to what you did wrong or you know why things are like this,” he said.

The racial profiling didn't stop in the classroom.

"You know, if I ride with my white friends in their car and we get pulled over, they might actually be surprised that they got pulled over because they haven't done anything out of the ordinary other than carrying a Black person in their car," he said.

Rowe left Parkland to attend Florida State University. He joined the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity where, he says, he learned the importance of civic enagement. 

Mark Johnson is also a member of the Sigmas, as they're more commonly known. He attended Cornell University about thirty years ago but found out about Rowe's march through the fraternity. He helped direct traffic during the walk, standing in the 90-degree heat for hours.

Credit Gerard Albert III / WLRN
Mark Johnson held a sign directing traffic for the solidarity walk.

He says part of the problem is a lack of awareness of Black issues.

“Very often ignorance is really just people ignoring the information in front of them. And so, by being out here in a predominantly-white neighborhood, we're really putting the information front and center so that people are more or less forced to take notice,” he said.

He worries for his nephews and other Black men interacting with police.

"I know for one that the vast majority of police officers out there are good police officers, there are a handful of bad police officers. But I never know when that one police officer I encountered just happens to be that minority of bad police officers," he said.

Credit Gerard Albert III / WLRN
Marchers stopped behind the police station at Mullins Park in Coral Springs to sing songs and take a break before heading home.

Johnson is 52 and he says it gives him hope that young people are organizing, especially in the suburbs.

The walk ended early due to lightning at nearby Mullins Park, where protesters gathered to sing songs and take a break.