Beverly teens who organized Black Lives Matter walk say event was first step toward change  

Amanda Ramos and Naisha Tatis

BEVERLY — When Naisha Tatis and Amanda Ramos saw the news about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last month, the two Beverly High students felt compelled to take action in their own hometown.

"We know our city isn't perfect and our city needs changes too," Tatis said.

Tatis and Ramos came up with the idea of a walk in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, having no idea how many people would actually respond. They got their answer when an estimated 1,000 people showed up to take part in the march on June 10.

"It was mind-boggling to say the least," Tatis said. "The turnout was more than we could have ever imagined."

Tatis, 18, said she and Ramos, 16, have always been angry and upset about racial injustice in the country, but this was one of the first times they decided to take action. Tatis is Dominican and Ramos is Brazilian.

"When we saw what happened with George Floyd, we said we have to get up and do something," Tatis said.

Tatis was born in New York, moved to Lynn and has lived in Beverly for about 10 years. She said she has had some issues in Beverly regarding prejudice, including a time when a teacher used the stereotype of Dominicans being late against her.

"That's what we're working to change now, to make sure it doesn't happen to kids," Tatis said. "I think the walk was just the first step to get people's attention."

Tatis graduated from Beverly High School this month and has enlisted in the Marines. She said she was inspired to join the military by an uncle who served in the Army.

"I've always wanted to help in some way, whether it's fighting for my country or fighting racial injustice at home," she said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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