Ed Kelly, Sentinel for Black Lives Matter

Ed Kelly

In the weeks following George Floyd’s murder thousands of people took to the streets to protest systemic racism and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  One New Jersey retired teacher was considering how he could participate.  Ed Kelly, a West Long Branch resident with a 36-year teaching career at Shore Regional High School, wanted to join with the protesters.  But his health issues made it difficult for him to march in the streets.  After a few days of pondering options, he found his own way to bring awareness to systemic racism. Every morning, without fail, from about 8:30 to 9:30 am, he can be found leaning against a stool on the shoulder of Highway 36 in West Long Branch holding a sign that reads “Black Lives Matter”.

I met up with Ed Kelly on the 71st day of his protest.  He told me he is committed to standing on the highway every morning until Donald Trump is no longer President. “You need to be persistent in your protest,” he notes.  He is hoping that his protest will end on Inauguration Day on January 20, 2021. But if Trump wins the election in November he is dedicated to “being here much longer.”

Ever the teacher, Ed understands that part of his job on Highway 36 is to continue to educate people.  In fact, on the back of Ed’s sign he has written out what he calls “my lesson plan”.  When people stop to talk with him, he uses the opportunity to deliver them a lesson on institutional racism.  Using the iceberg metaphor as a teaching tool, he notes that while people may see and recognize overt forms of racism such as the KKK, the reality is that much of racial inequality is embedded in our housing, education, health, policing, employment and other institutions.  Ed notes that “it is important for us to understand all of this [under the tip of the iceberg].”  He talks about the impact of gerrymandered districts and red-lining policies in his own town and throughout the country. He educates passers-by about environmental racism, lack of health care and transportation barriers, challenging people to understand how structural factors impact equity.  And he discusses the role of micro-aggressions, like racist jokes, in perpetuating racism.  And he also reminds those who come by to vote in November.   Ed says his protest on the highway “it is so important.  We can’t just sit around; we have to do something.”

He has received mostly positive reactions from drivers—with lots of people honking horns and waving in support.  Several people have stopped to take pictures of him and talk with him.  One family brought their young daughter to meet him and learn from his “lesson plan.”   Others have even brought him food.  However, not everyone’s response has been positive.  He has had people drive off the road a bit into the shoulder as if to run him over. He recalls one driver “he was off the road, in the shoulder, coming right at me. I was thinking, I am not moving.  Is this guy committed to killing me?  And he wasn’t.”  Ed notes that at the last minute the driver swerved away from him off the shoulder and back onto the highway.

Ed comes from a family of educators—his mother was a teacher starting her career in 1928 and his son is currently a kindergarten teacher in the neighboring town of Long Branch. And at 74-years old, Ed continues to teach.  But this time he is not teaching in a classroom but instead on a busy highway.  He remarks: “I am glad that I am here and I am glad that I can do something.”

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  • Robert James Guerra

    What’s their excuse out there in the streets agitating people and saying they’re peaceful protesters did it ever dawn on them that this is the age of technology and if they truly want to be peaceful protestors they can do it online? but no they want to cause drama amongst the looters and rioters and risk getting hurt or hurting others yea real smart peaceful protesting tactic. common sense is dead to these people or they’re just playing dumb 🙄 we know the truth they’re just trying to put all those radical nuts in power. it’s not about racism at all, otherwise they would be agreeing with me. I asked all these questions to a lot of BLM supporters on twitter by wasting my time but many of them couldn’t answer back without sounding like a Marxist so its clearly a political stunt that fuels discrimination its really not about the police because they’re clearly better ways to protest if they want to reform the police but no the exciting drama and the twisted info from the media is what drives them to do it it’s not about reforming the system or the police it’s all about them the Left the radical Left that wants POTUS Trump out of office if it takes pulling down statues and destroying property and businesses and rioting if it antagonizes people to do that then more power to them they say; and even the media ignores it because they don’t want it to stop, same with the celebs and sports stars with their stupid misleading antics make me not want to watch movies with those in the kind like when I stopped watching wrestling as a kid because when I figured out it was fake. sports teams blackballing a game totally unfair to the other teams they were supposed to play against because and its really not saying anything but well when it comes down to it there mad Hillary didn’t win, there are smarter ways to protest peacefully and fairly but they’re not doing because they would rather put political correctness before anything else regardless, shows how organizations can be really pathetic and will they learn a lesson about all this probably not because they chose to play dumb about what’s really going on with all the rioting and destruction because they love it. otherwise, they wouldn’t be there in the streets and or blackballing from playing games or kneeling during the National Anthem, they know it agitates people to do destructive things and they wonder why people get shot.
    There are more non-racists then there are racists
    there’s always going to be racism you can’t stop it all of it.
    Why doesn’t BLM have a cop rally for reform if they want to reform?
    BLM protestors and the radical Left seem oxymoronic then they do rhetoric. so what’s really their message? vote democrat? Ever wonder where BLM Donations actually go? Even though The Internal Revenue Service stipulates that 501(c)(3) organizations are “absolutely prohibited” from making contributions to political campaigns… guess where it’s going to! That’s right, “ActBlue”….❄️😡 Black Lives Matter Global Foundation, Inc. fails to comment.”
    a little over a thousand people were killed by cops and only 24% of them were black Americans yet the fake war on racism continues
    black people were shot by a cop then white people, the problem with the black
    community is 70% of them were raised fatherless compared to the 30% of
    white people which would most likely cause the influence in lack of
    education do to the lack of stability from not having both parents in their lives.
    I can never apologize for being white and I won’t, and I am not racist I don’t have a problem with someone because of the color of their skin
    I was born after 1776 and if 1866 would have never happened I probably
    wouldn’t be here.
    Quoted by an intelligent black Author of Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake War; had this to say ” Black Lives Matter is an oxymoronic and disingenuous organization” ~Allen West
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40538865-hate-crime-hoax?fbclid=IwAR19OsoMzZuMp5P4BvGlK8oUBqT09oYeg08SNqtshjdMmsUJDF6lfTezaAQ
    if that doesn’t move you here’s another good read https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48758366-the-iron-triangle?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=37qyFAsip5&rank=5
    don’t believe distorted and bios commentaries from the Left why do you think some of the BLM youtube vids have comments turned off? free your mind and watch this trailer ~~~> youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=QVLj-zARCv8&feature=emb_logo
    defund the police means defund black officers and the new green deal means thousands of black men losing their jobs. I’m done here
    if you give a goose Adderall then all it will do is swim in circles, do your own research it and take it or leave it go find the real news it is what it is
    too bad everyone that #walkaway from the Dems couldn’t sue the libelous media they were so maliciously pushed to believe…
    also if your for BLM your for Aborting babies 9 month’s from a mother’s womb where she will be traumatized and mind trapped forever remembering that smell during and after the abortion “Abortion” how far is to far with the Liberal Mob?

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