Black Lives Matter protests aren't just happening in big cities. They're also in America's small towns
Updated 2:04 AM ET, Sat June 6, 2020
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(CNN)As a person of color, Kaneesha Willie has dealt with racism her entire life.
Participating in her hometown's protest in Paducah, Kentucky, gave her an opportunity to show her young, mixed-race kids that their voices matter, especially as black people are fighting to be heard in the wake of George Floyd's death.
The 23-year-old said she was proud to see her small town fight for justice in such a big way at the Chief Paduke statue, a historical marker for the town.
"We all bleed red," Willie said. "We are all one and the protest really showed that our community came together. It was beautiful."
And the message that Willie believes has been sent to her kids is this: "They are powerful, unique, brave and should be unapologetic about who they are and what they stand for," Willie said.
Thousands have demonstrated in communities across the world to protest and demand racial justice in the aftermath of George Floyd's death. The 46-year-old black man died May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis police with his last moments caught on video.
The national stage has shown us protests in big cities like Washington DC, New York City and Los Angeles, but small towns that dot the map -- ones you may never hear about -- are also protesting with small acts of solidarity.
State College, Pennsylvania
State College, Pennsylvania, is home to Penn State University, making it predominately a college town. With the majority of its students away for the summer, Ryan Jones was surprised to see hundreds of people show up in the city's downtown area on Sunday.
The town, 192 miles west of Philadelphia, is in the middle of an otherwise white and rural part of the state, according to Jones.
"Silence very much feels like complicity at this point," he said. "The anger driving the protests is clearly justified, and no one's ever made the point better than Dr. King: 'A riot is the language of the unheard.'"