A 9-year-old Farmington Hills resident’s desire to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement led about 100 children and their families to march through downtown Farmington last Saturday.
Katherine May said she has been talking with her son, Eme Okorie, about the protests that have swept the country since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“Being the mother of an African-American son, I think it’s really important that I have conversations with him about these things,” May said. “I try to bring it down to the kid level as much as possible. When we talked about the protests, he said wanted to protest.”
May saw a notice on social media about a small group meeting in Farmington, and Eme wanted to join. He made a sign, but by the time mother and son arrived, the group was gone. May urged her son to not give up.
“He said, I’ll carry the sign, and you say, ‘Black Lives Matter’,” May explained. “We started at Starbucks (downtown) and walked around that block.”
As they talked about their experience, Eme asked why more activities weren’t organized for kids. May encouraged him to start his own, and he came up with the name, March of the Kids. May helped him set up an event on Facebook.
From that point on, things moved pretty fast.
“We posted it Tuesday night, and I shared it with my friends who are within a 20 or 30 mile radius,” May said. “They asked if they could share it. The next thing I know, most of the people who RSVP’d were people I didn’t know.”
May reached out to Farmington Public Safety to ensure a safe, peaceful event, and had high praise for their response. An officer on bicycle escorted the group, which started at 10 a.m. from the south end of The Groves shopping center, and stopped traffic as they crossed streets. When the group stopped at Public Safety headquarters on Liberty Street, Commander Bob Houhanisin talked about the department and its mission statement.
Overall, May said, “it was a great event. The best part for me… it was amazing to see when you create a platform for people, how much power you give them. It was really, really powerful to see all those kids come out.”
Eme raised his voice before and after the event, giving short speeches from atop his mother’s vehicle. May said he learned a lot from March of the Kids and wants to keep the energy going. The two of them have done some brainstorming, and he has talked about organizing another march.
May said whatever comes next is entirely up to Eme.
“I don’t want this to be me,” she said, “I’m here to support my son.”