Saeed, Zaia organize Black Lives Matter protest for Northborough community

Jenny Lambert, Sports Editor

During quarantine, seniors Sarah Saeed and Kathryn Zaia decided to make a difference in the community by organizing a Black Lives Matter protest in Northborough on June 6.

“I felt like at that time there were so many people in the community who really cared about this issue and were really invested in it but didn’t quite know how to channel that feeling,” Zaia said in an interview via Zoom. “So when Sarah reached out about the protest it just seemed like the best thing we could do to allow people to gather and show solidarity for this really important movement.”

Saeed wanted to channel her activism through the protest.

“At that time, there were a lot of things going on, especially all starting with the killing of George Floyd,” Saeed said in an interview via Zoom. “I’ve been an activist for a long time, and police brutality has always been one of my focuses, but that particular issue and the Black Lives Matter movement really came into the mainstream during the end of May and when all of those things started happening, and I just remember thinking I wanted to do something about this issue.”

According to Saeed, over 400 people attended the event. Zaia was happy to see such a large portion of the community supporting this cause.

It felt amazing that we have such an inclusive and engaged high school population,” Zaia said.

The large turnout came as a surprise to Saeed, who was not expecting many to show.

“Of course we were really glad to see how many people wanted to show up,” Saeed said. “Northborough is a town that’s mostly made up of white people, but I never felt like it was a particularly welcoming town, or one that really cared about race issues. So to see that amount of involvement and that many people who were willing to risk going out in a crowd during a pandemic…was amazing.”

Organizing an event this large during a pandemic took hard work and sleepless nights. 

“It was kind of a crazy process,” Saeed said. “For the first six days in which we planned it, we were up super late working on it every hour of every day.”

Both Saeed and Zaia had to check in with the Northborough chief of police to make sure they were allowed to host this event.

“[Having to talk to the chief of police] was something that I kind of struggled with on a moral level,” Saeed said. “It was kind of weird because the whole protest is about police brutality, defunding the police and why the institution of the police in America is done in the wrong way, and here we are having to rely on them to run this event. The whole interaction with them was very strange. They were very nice about it, and they tried to keep a low profile there, but it just felt kind of strange morally.”

Saeed believes holding the protest was what needed to be done.

“We got a lot of emails, Facebook messages and stuff like that saying thank you for organizing this event,” Saeed said. “To which I say I feel like it’s my duty as part of this community.”

When the event was over, Saeed and Zaia were filled with emotion.

“I wanted to cry afterwards because seeing the amount of people that showed up and actually cared was amazing,” Saeed said. “After the event, Kathryn and I were, first of all, amazed that we were able to do this because just a few days before, it had been something random we wished we could do. Other than that we were just so overwhelmed that all of our hard work had paid off.”

In holding the protest, Saeed wanted to raise up the voices of those who the movement is about.

“Even though I organized this protest, it’s not about me, and I don’t want it to seem like it’s about me,” Saeed said. “I’m just trying to raise up the voices of those who are not as privileged or aren’t able to speak out without fear of their safety as I am.”

“I’m very thankful and glad that the Algonquin community showed up and supported this important cause,” Zaia said.