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For one woman, demonstrations mean neighbors 'see me for all of who I am'

Heather Beaird was part of the effort to get a statue of George Washington, the founder of Centralia, (pictured above) commissioned. Washington was biracial and his father was enslaved. Beaird says that identity has influenced community conversations.
Ed Ronco
/
KNKX
Heather Beaird was part of the effort to get a statue of George Washington, the founder of Centralia, (pictured above) commissioned. Washington was biracial and his father was enslaved. Beaird says that identity has influenced community conversations.

Ever since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, demonstrations have followed in Washington state and around the country. Most of the coverage has focused on big cities. Now, we're going to hear from someone in Chehalis.

It and neighboring Centralia are predominately white, but in the weeks following Floyd’s death, the communities saw demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Heather Beaird is biracial, and says without those events happening, she never would have known there was that much support in her community. She says the demonstrations haven’t been completely problem free – passersby have shouted things occasionally – but they’ve also been peaceful and, for Beaird, powerful.

Heather Beaird
Heather Beaird

“I have been absolutely, pleasantly, hugely shocked at how many people have been out demonstrating for this,” she said, “and how many people have reached out to me personally and just asked ‘Hey are you OK?’ It’s really made me feel like people see me for all of who I am.”

She spoke to KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco about what the recent weeks have been like, and how the issue of identity can be complicated, no matter where you live.

Listen through the audio player above.

Ed Ronco came to KNKX in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KNKX’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.