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Man Treks 1,000 Miles From Alabama To Minnesota For 'Change, Justice And Equality'

Jul 12, 2020
Originally published on July 13, 2020 11:23 am

More than one month after embarking on what he calls a march for "change, justice and equality," Terry Willis on Sunday completed a 1,000-mile walk from his hometown of Huntsville, Ala., to the site of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

Willis, a 35-year-old business owner, said he feels obligated as a Black man and father to help create a better future for his son.

"I'm not here to judge anyone, I say do what you have to do to make sure your voice is heard," Willis wrote in a Facebook post announcing his plans. "In 1965 MLK marched to Selma for us to have the right to vote. In 2020 I Terry Willis will walk from Alabama to Minnesota for our right to be seen as equals."

Willis began his trek on June 2 at the Fade Factory Barbershop in Huntsville. He posted daily videos and updates on social media accounts, including his Facebook page, which had amassed more than 39,000 followers as of Sunday evening.

Supporters cheered on Willis, both online and in person, with some joining him for portions of his walk in different states.

He made several detours along the way to pay his respects to Black victims of police violence and racial injustice, including Floyd, who was buried in Houston, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Laquan McDonald in Chicago.

Willis said he was overwhelmed by the recent deaths of Floyd, Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, which moved him to begin his "silent protest" against the injustices faced by Black people in America.

"It made me feel a plethora of mixed emotions: angry, frustrated, confused, sad," he said. "This could've been me, my family or friends. I knew I had to do something."

Willis is also raising money to start a nonprofit, according to a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $37,000 of its $50,000 goal. In a Facebook post on the page for the march, Willis wrote that the organization will teach people with criminal records and juvenile delinquents a trade, like barbering or carpentry, to help them open their own businesses.

Willis was accompanied by a pace car and told a local TV station that he would take his time and take rest and water breaks as needed.

He arrived in Minneapolis on Sunday, joined by crowds of supporters and wearing a T-shirt with "March for Change, Justice and Equality" emblazoned on the back. He concluded his journey at the exact location Floyd was killed by police on May 25.

In an emotional speech to a cheering crowd, Willis thanked onlookers for their support and spoke about how the march had impacted him, while keeping focus on the reason he decided to do it in the first place.

"I just walked, that's all I did," he said. "I'm no celebrity, I'm no superhero, I'm just a regular man who's seen a man get murdered, and I had to do something."

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