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‘Let Us Breathe Abilene’ aims to make positive changes in community



ABILENE, TX– February is Black History Month because it hosts the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, two men who were grassroots leaders for the emancipation of slaves.

A local grassroots leader for racial equality in the Key City, Shawnte Fleming founded the Let Us Breathe Abilene organization.

“This is America 2021, we’re still fighting this fight about racial injustice,” said Fleming.

After the death of George Floyd, Fleming said she felt stirred up.

“It really drove me, like, ‘What if this was my son?’” said Fleming.

As a local bondsman and former prison corrections officer, Fleming says she has seen injustice.

“A lot of the stuff that goes on here locally, we see it first hand: victims, aggressors,” said Fleming.

So she founded Let Us Breathe Abilene.

“We wanted to work with everybody to make a change within our community,” said Fleming.

Fleming’s group that has organized Juneteenth celebrations, protests, MLK Day events, service days, and worked to create change for Stevenson Park, a historical gathering place for people of color in Abilene.

“And we wanted suitable bathrooms, water fountains, so when it’s hot we would have somewhere to drink,” said Fleming.

Fleming says she couldn’t do it without the help of her team, family, and city officials, as well as people like Darla Mayse.

“I call her my sister,” said Mayse.

Mayse, who is a leader in Let Us Breathe, says as a white woman she can relate to Shawnte’s fears as a mother.

“My daughter is Black, so it goes back to the same thing, my daughter could have been Breonna Taylor,” said Mayse.

Mayse says it’s important to step up and be a voice for others.

“I feel like now, not just standing up for what’s right, it’s advocating and educating,” said Mayse.

This Black History Month, Let Us Breathe Abilene hopes to educate through events like a soul food day, Black is Beautiful Fridays, a memorial to honor the Black lives lost in 2020 and Soul Train Day.

“And we are going to highlight Black history and the culture of it,” said Fleming.

The group hopes their involvement in the community will help prevent injustices within the city.

Fleming says their biggest need is donations to be able to fund their mission to help others and their educational events.