Shirey Archie "Archie"

I never was active as a civil rights person – that period escaped me. I lived on the little privilege I had being male, English speaking, and able to enter and leave a room without disruption. But then I had a “late in life” son. His birth hit me: I now had to take care of a black child in a society that doesn’t do well with black male children. The power of that was overwhelming. I decided I had to do something. I started being involved with peace and anti-war groups but soon realized that they had a hard time seeing the war being waged against black and brown people in our own community. So, I decided to "Stand Against Racism". I made the personal commitment to just keep standing. I have my sign in my car, and I stand with it 15 minutes here and there. I am out at Four Corners Saturdays from 9:30-10. 

Four Corners is the perfect logistical location: there is traffic from different directions, a direct line from 4 Corners into Albany. Five miles down the road is Malcolm X Park. If you walked that route, you would see that, “I-smell-a-rat’s-tale of two cities.” It is so obvious, it is disturbing. It’s like a different country in some ways and so many people who pass through this intersection don’t know that. “Why is that old guy standing there with that sign?” Because 5 miles from there people are struggling and there is no good reason for that. I blame all of us – we did that. 

My son just turned 18. Every day of his life has been, “Will somebody hurt him today?” There is no reason that I should be carrying that burden around. I have to carry that around – how do I keep him safe in a world, a society or a community that should be doing everything they can to keep him safe? 

Holding my sign out there puts me in a position to have moments that are amazing and moments that serve as a reminder of why I am standing there. The person who drives by and yells, ”Get a job! What’s your problem? We took care of that years ago!” But then there is the person who says, “You just don’t know how much I appreciate you standing there,” especially when said in the presence of a young person. When a mom and daughter walk past me on the corner and say thank you, I know that I am there for a reason. Now how can I blow that spark into a flame that motivates us to change? 

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