OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Nine-year-old Jessica Ma was among more than `100 people who gathered Saturday in Overland Park for a Stop Asian Hate rally.
Ma has had questions for her parents about the recent spike in hate crimes against people of Asian descent.
“My sign says, 'Don’t hurt our grandparents,' because I saw on the news many grandparents, many elders, are getting pushed on the concrete or punched in their faces and so I want to change that," Ma said.
Organizers told 41 Action News the overall message of the rally was to replace hate with love.
“With love we can do anything and everything," Daniel Xue said. "With hate we will just basically separate our countries."
Demonstrators held a variety of signs displaying, "Love your neighbor," "Disarm hate" and "Silence is violence," among other phrases.
But bringing people together takes conversations, including those with children. Shellie Ellis told 41 Action News about the difficult conversations she had to have with her child, who is Chinese American.
“I think it’s just super important for parents to talk to their kids," Ellis said, "and not just me as a parent of a child of a different race but all parents to talk to their kids about race."
Organizers of the rally said they believe conversations with children will help improve the future.
“That’s the most important thing because our next generation is our hope," Xue said. "With them we can change this world and we can make this world better."
Before the rally ended with a candlelight vigil and moment of silence for the victims of the deadly shootings in Atlanta, cars honked in support of the message as they drove by.
Seeing and hearing that support, said she Ma feels she is making a difference.
“I feel happy, I feel proud because somehow we’re going to make this work and we’re going to be respected again," Ma said.
Another rally will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at Cafe Cà Phê.