BLM flag raising marks launch of Winooski anti-racism campaign; effort has raised over $15k

Local customers and onlookers watched and applauded as a Black Lives Matter flag was raised in the middle of Rotary Park in Winooski on Friday, intended to show the city’s solidarity with residents of color. 

The flag-raising event marked the launch of a new, local campaign, Winooski Strong, spearheaded by community organizer and DJ Craig Mitchell, alongside city organization Downtown Winooski, restaurant Waterworks Food & Drink, and downtown club The Monkey House.

Winooski officials prep Black Lives Matter flag-raising at Rotary Park on August 8, 2020. Through local campaign Winooski Strong, 61 city businesses and organizations showed their solidarity toward fundraising and supporting anti-racism work in the city.

The campaign, intended to support local anti-racism work in and around Winooski, collaborated with local creative agency OKAY!!OKAY!! to design a “racial awareness” T-shirt. 

Proceeds from Winooski Strong T-shirt sales will go toward the Loveland Foundation, a national fund that supports access to therapy for women of color, and local organizations The Black Perspective, Loving Day Vermont, and Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington

Eliza (left) and Roselie Phillip of Burlington-based creative agency OKAY!!OKAY!! pose with "Winooski Strong" t-shirts. Eliza designed the t-shirt's front logo.

The campaign has already brought in over $15,000 for these organizations, according to a press release about the event.

“We recognize that [racial] inequities exist right here in Winooski, and are committed to working toward addressing them,” said Mayor Kristine Lott prior to raising the flag.  

“Raising the Black Lives Matter flag is one way we can show members of our community and beyond our public commitment to the mission of racial unity.”

Community organizer and local DJ Craig Mitchell speaks in front of a crowd at Rotary Park in Winooski on August 8, 2020

In recognizing the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Mitchell connected the current moment of protests and demonstrations to the civil rights leader’s efforts to expose racism and white supremacy in the U.S. South during the 1960s.

“This is part of that wind of change,” Mitchell said. 

The campaign stands behind the work being done by young leaders of color to highlight and address racism in Vermont, Mitchell added, highlighting organizations like The Black Perspective and Winooski Students for Anti-Racism.

Eliza and Roselie Phillip pose back of Winooski Strong t-shirts on August 8, 2020. The back of the shirt reads "In Our City, Diversity Is Celebrated, Black Lives Matter, Hate Has No Home Here, Love Is Love." Proceeds from the sale of t-shirts will go towards some local Black-led organizations, including the Black Perspective, Loving Day Vermont, and Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington.

Over 50 Winooski businesses and organizations gave their support to the campaign’s efforts and are included on the back of the shirt.

Future endeavors for the campaign include a “Winooski Strong” brew created by Four Quarters Brewing, as well as plans for a Black Lives Matter street mural in the city.

T-shirts can be purchased at select Winooski businesses, including Autumn Records, Four Quarters Brewing, Pingala Cafe, and others.

Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or ebakuli@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.

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