By Nathan Ham
Peaceful marchers braved a rainy Saturday morning in Banner Elk to make a stand against social injustice, supported by Lees-McRae students, athletes, alumni and staff members.
According to LMC graduate and former basketball standout Lepreece Lynch, who helped organize the event along with Kiara Montenegro, said there were around 40 people that came out to march peacefully from Tate-Evans Park through Lees-McRae’s campus, stopping short of completing a full circle, which Lynch said felt like a metaphor for doing something to change the ending instead of just continually going in circles.
“This was something that I wanted to do for the community of Banner Elk and Lees McRae. As a former alumnus, I love the area so much, I just wanted to bring awareness to the area I love and cherish so much and give the school and the students an opportunity to voice their beliefs and opinions as well,” said Lynch.
Lepreece, who works in High Point, said he originally was planning on just making the trip up to Banner Elk to visit his sister, Malikah, and his niece, who are both following in his footsteps by playing basketball at LMC. The recent events that have shaken race relations even further in the United States gave him more reason to do something to support his former home away from home.
“I was just coming to see them, but then I was thinking why not do something in light of what has taken place. It seemed like the timing was perfect,” said Lynch. “We as African Americans are tired of the social injustices that are taking place in the world today.”
Lynch continued, saying, “we want to see a change in the world and in America. We have to be that change, we have to be the start. I love Lees-McRae, I love the community, they have done a lot for me. I didn’t want the silence from the community to continue.”
News of the event spread quickly on social media, as well as from Amy Anderson, the dean of LMC’s business school, and from Kiara Montenegro who also helped organize the event and made a flier to circulate around the community.
“We got a lot of positive feedback, more positive than negative. We had a couple of people giving us thumbs down, but nobody really said anything verbally. We definitely had more positive than negative, which is something I’m very pleased with and very thankful for from the Banner Elk community,” said Lynch.
He wanted to extend a special thanks to Banner Elk Police Chief Kevin Hodges, calling him “an amazing guy” who allowed them to peacefully march and made sure they were kept safe and had a safe route to walk. Lepreece also sends a special thanks to the community, students, and staff that supported them.
“Hopefully this is something that can continue and we can work towards making a change,” he said.