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Walking with Shawn

This year has been a challenging time for me and I’m sure many of you reading this article as well. With so much turmoil and hatred being broadcast by the media and Facebook, I just can’t watch it anymore. This morning I just needed to read something positive so I searched the internet and read several truly heartwarming articles. It’s sad that we rarely see anything positive in the news today, so I thought I’d bring you an article I read by Maura Hohman, a writer for that was published earlier this week.

For 54 years, Shawn Dromgoole’s family has lived on the same corner in the same neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, and the 29-year-old, who’s black, has walked down those streets all his life.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, however, Dromgoole didn’t feel at home or even safe in his own community. He worried what would happen if one of his white neighbors saw him, didn’t recognize him and called the cops, he told TODAY.

Dromgoole took to social media to share “what was on my heart,” he said. He posted Wednesday on Facebook and later on Nextdoor, an app that connects people living in the same neighborhoods.

“Yesterday I wanted to walk around my neighborhood but the fear of not returning home to my family alive kept me on my front porch,” he wrote. “Today I wanted to walk again and I could not make it off the porch. Then I called my mother, Lynetra, and she said she would walk with (me). I still kept my ID on me and my phone in my hand but I walked.”

Before posting, Dromgoole wasn’t a fan of Nextdoor because he often saw messages on it about “suspicious black men walking in the neighborhood,” he said. “It was terrifying to me. … I’m like, ‘These people hate me in this neighborhood.'”

He added that his neighborhood has been gentrifying in recent years and that he’s been stopped by police for “walking while black” before. “It’s not a new reality,” he explained.

But the flood of responses to his post on Nextdoor didn’t align with his expectations. He said the day it went up, 150 strangers who lived nearby answered, offering to walk with him, apologizing for making him feel the way he did and thanking him for his honesty.

He asked the people who wanted to walk with him to meet in the parking lot of a local restaurant. About 75 showed up, he said, and they all went for a stroll together. “It was such an amazing feeling,” Dromgoole recalled. “My neighbors were behind me, and they had my back. That was my reaction. I’m still dumbfounded by all the support.”

“I just want to walk, not parade, not march,” he said. “I remember just walking as a kid. In a world that’s so complicated with technology and things, sometimes you just need to walk off your front porch and say hey to your neighbor.”

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