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Community Gathers At The First Baptist Church Of Venice For Memorial, Civil Rights Rally

VENICE (CBSLA) -- A memorial and civil rights rally was held in Venice on Sunday to honor the contributions of people of color in the community.

Hundreds of people, from four years old to the elderly, gathered at the First Baptist Church of Venice, where they sang the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and recited an indigenous prayer.

"This church holds 109 years of black history," said Laddie Williams, an attendee. "Black and brown people built this church -- it's a black architect, and every worker who worked in here was from our families."

On the steps of the now-vacant church, local families left flowers in memory of George Floyd and other African Americans who have died in this country at the hands of police officers, and speakers shared the pain of their experiences with racial injustice.

"History is repeating itself!" said Venice High School teacher Soni Lloyd.

Recent Venice High School graduates organized the event. Some of the older attendees say they're placing their hopes in the youth as they continue to mobilize and fight for change.

"We're tired of being scared, so any of you who are young right now -- the same age as us -- we need you to stand up because we're not gonna take it anymore. We are the leaders! We are the future!" said Ty Martinez, a recent graduate.

The event was held at the First Baptist of Venice in part to bring attention to plans to convert the historic location into a private home -- a decision which many in the community have been speaking out against as well.


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