Hoping to make a difference, man adds voice to Grayson County protests
People always told Joshua Shaw he would have a voice.
“I just did not know how it was going to come about,” the 28-year-old said.
Growing up, Shaw heard other people’s imagining of his future: He'd be a preacher, or a public speaker. Shaw ran away from those visions – he became a music producer instead.
Churchgoers, artists and 20-somethings around Sherman, Texas, know Shaw from watching him playing instruments in church, hosting parties and bringing people together for happy gatherings. When he posted on Facebook that he was going to be part of the first protest in support of George Floyd in Grayson County, the word got out and the protest picked up traction.
Thousands of citizens in Grayson County gathered in Sherman for a walk from Fairview Park to the Grayson County Courthouse on May 31. The peaceful march had police escorts, and Shaw could be heard shouting every step of the two-mile trek.
“Say his name. George Floyd.” “No justice, no peace.” “Black Lives Matter.”
Joshua Shaw had found his voice.
‘This is happening again’
Shaw felt like he didn’t need to see the now-infamous video of the death of George Floyd. As a Black man, he didn’t need to.
“It was the same story again," he said. “Seeing and hearing the story, I have seen so many deaths. But when I did watch the video, I could see his pain. I could feel his pain. That right there made me question what is enough.”
He could not be complacent anymore.
At the first protest he attended, in Dallas, a police officer pulled a gun on him. That's when he knew: Police brutality could happen anywhere. And unless the protest was peaceful, he felt the message could be lost.
“I knew that Sherman, Grayson County, could do a peaceful protest,” Shaw said. “I wanted to help show them how it is done.”
Again, thousands joined his call for justice at the second Grayson County protest on June 3. Shaw’s voice was also heard in other marches in Durant, Oklahoma, Van Alstyne and Whitewright. And the protests aren’t finished.
“To share the energy and be a part of history, is amazing,” he said. “I love going to these protests and seeing people of different ages, of different races all wanting to be a part of this. They are supporting Black Lives Matter because they want change as well.”
What Joshua believes needs to happen in Sherman:
Knowledge - More Than a Like is Shaw’s public outreach Facebook Page promotes accountability for its page members. “When you see something, step up and say something,” he said. “When people are making those little sly slick comments, stop that immediately. Call it out. Do it in love. Some people do not know any better, so we have to help each other by saying things to educate them.”
Voter registration and voting – Shaw now attends city council and commissioner’s court meetings. He has also planned voter registration rallies.
A community agenda - Shaw has applied for his organization to become a nonprofit. His committee is also working to develop an agenda for the Black community in Grayson County.
Black Wall Street – Prior to the burning of the Grayson County Courthouse during the Sherman Riot of in 1930, Sherman had a Black business district. Shaw wants to develop an area just off the town square in the vicinity of the current courthouse for a black business district. “My goal is to have that done in the next five years,” he said. “I want to have that whole street filled with our culture.”
It takes time
Shaw studies works of Malcom X, Jane Adams and Louis Farrakhan, and as he has been learning about the plight of other black activists, they have been the key to keeping the movement in focus.
“If you are okay with this, OK then,” Shaw said of how quickly social media can push images. “Right on. But I am not OK with this. I do not care if this is from 2017 or last week. I am not OK with this. We have to keep moving forward. We have to get more involved.”
Shaw is not yet a preacher, but he now understands what others meant when they were telling him that he would one day lead.
“I have already seen where God is placing me,” he said. “I know where I am about to be. I know that this is on the road to getting there. I have to deal with this to get there and I am OK with that. This is on the road to getting there and I am grateful for God giving me these opportunities.”