Dozens of speakers address social justice, education and more at peaceful rally in South Tahoe |

Dozens of speakers address social justice, education and more at peaceful rally in South Tahoe

The group IRunWithMaud hosted a rally Sunday at South Lake Tahoe’s largest beach, which spanned several hours and included roughly two dozen speakers.
Justin Scacco / Sierra Sun

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Dozens gathered Sunday afternoon at South Lake Tahoe’s largest beach area to hear from speakers on a myriad of topics including social justice, health care and education.

The IRunWithMaud group hosted the rally, which spanned several hours at Lakeview Commons and included roughly two dozen speakers.

“Just going and protesting is great,” said one of IRunWithMaud’s organizers Jen Dawn. “We know that protesting creates change. We know that protesting creates momentum. But what we decided we needed to do with this movement was to raise awareness in a deeper way — to have deeper conversations.”

The rally came together when South Tahoe’s IRunWithMaud group began exploring different forms of peaceful protest. IRunWithMaud became a global campaign after Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was killed by two white men while out jogging last February in Georgia. In South Tahoe, the group seeks to “raise awareness of the ongoing racism in our country and begin conversations about white privilege and how best we can come together to support the #blacklivesmatter movement,” according to its Facebook page.

“… what we decided we needed to do with this movement was to raise awareness in a deeper way. To have deeper conversations.” — Jen Dawn, IRunWithMaud’s organizer

“We just started getting on regular Zoom calls and exploring who could we invite,” said Dawn. “We really wanted representation from the different nonprofits and local organizations like Live Violence Free, Tahoe Youth and Family Services. We really wanted to have representation across the board, and then we drew from this reality that social justice work goes into a multitude of different areas.”

Speakers at the event brought together members of the community like Vice President of Student Services at Lake Tahoe Community College Jonathan King to Editor and cofounder of Adventure Sports Journal Matt Niswonger, Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board Member Bonnie Turnbull and western Nevada College English Professor Claire McCully, who Dawn called one of the highlights of the afternoon following her reading of an original poem, which was scathingly critical of President Donald Trump.

“A lot of the outrage that I’ve felt, that’s in here, is more about my positive feelings about America and what I think our country can be if we support each other, and we fight racism, and we fight and standup for equal rights and respect for everybody,” said McCully on the poem.

Others used their time to speak on instances of racial injustice within the area, LGBTQ rights, and health care disparities in the community.

While the afternoon spanned several hours and more than 20 speakers, the IRunWithMaud group invited around 60 speakers, according to Dawn, who added that many declined out of fear of retaliation.

“We really wanted good representation of a lot of local folks and their experiences,” said Dawn. “People were just afraid of the retaliation. People are afraid to come. In a small community, your business could be affected.”

Among those the group reached out to, Dawn said members of the area’s Latino community overwhelmingly turned down invitations to speak due to fears ranging from COVID-19 to immigration status.

Dawn said she has also reached out to members from conservative groups about opening up discussions.

“I’ve reached out to them personally and been like, ‘Hey, lets talk. I really want to talk to you about these issues,’” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s been met with a lot of hostility, but I don’t think that necessarily means it’s a lost cause.”

Going forward, Dawn said IRunWithMaud’s South Tahoe group will focus on the upcoming elections.

“We have our subgroups that are working on different issues, but I don’t think we’ll be holding any other events until probably spring or summer next year,” said co-founder Jenifer Norris. “Although, who knows? If something happens that we need to response to, we might, but right now we don’t have any plans for other events.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication to the Tribune. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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