Great-grandaughter of lynched activist honors victims for Juneteenth in Norfolk
NORFOLK -- "Juneteenth is American history," declared Tamira Volk of Norfolk at the third Pan Africans of Northeast Nebraska Juneteenth event, Saturday.
The event -- with water games, cornhole, food and zumba -- runs until 7 p.m. at Central Park.
Volk moved to Norfolk from Detroit for her husband who farms, but even now -- living in a city with fewer minorities -- she continues a family history of activism. Thanks to Volk, Norfolk is seeing its third Juneteenth celebration this weekend.
"There's been a whole history of violence against Black people in the U.S., people don't know this but my own great grandfather was lynched," Volk said. Volk said her great grandfather, Roy Ray, was an activist in Kentucky who was killed for speaking out like she does.
But, lynching was only just made punishable this year. "Having that act passed was an awesome thing to happen this summer," Volk said. And there's much more she wants to see done to prevent violence against minorities. Volk quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that you can't change people's hearts; but you can change the law.
"I am a gun owner myself, some of the things we can do is have common sense laws," Volk said, in regard to background checks and types of weapons.
That's why Saturday, the Juneteenth event included a memorial moment for Uvalde and Buffalo victims.
Volk also still wants to see the George Floyd law passed -- which would increase accountability for police, and for Norfolk to come together for Juneteenth regardless of race.
"My life experience is if good people do nothing then evil can proliferate. I feel it is my Christian duty to stand up for Christ and people marginalized," Volk said.
She does that by uniting people of all backgrounds in Norfolk -- not just minorities themselves.
"Tamira is an amazing organizer," said Anneka Ramirez, a volunteer. "I want to be a part of a community that encourages and creates belonging for everybody."
Hopefully, she said, that's happening -- as The Pan Africans of Northeast Nebraska are growing in numbers.
"We've had a lot of hard hits this year, but I am still hopeful and have faith in God," Volk said.