ELGIN — Jake Roberts wants Elgin to do its part, show its support.
Roberts, who grew up in Elgin and has returned to live there, is organizing a Black Lives Matter protest for Elgin this Saturday.
"I believe that this fight against systemic racism is not just the responsibility of people of color," Roberts said. "Black Americans have been yelling about this for 400 years."
According to the 2010 census, Elgin's 1,087 residents are nearly 98 percent white and only 0.5 percent Black. That, Roberts said, is the reason why Elgin is a good place to hold a BLM protest.
"The reason we're doing this in Elgin is it's white America," Roberts said. "Growing up here, I know the racists and biased ideologies that grow up there."
Roberts said in communities that are predominately white, it's easy to think of problems facing Black Americans as problems that don't impact your life. Instead, racism is a problem that impacts everyone, Black, white or any other color. By holding an event in Elgin, it helps give a voice to Blacks and whites.
"Racism holds society down as a whole," Roberts said. "People of color need to feel comfortable in these small towns."
That's another important reason for Saturday's event, Roberts said. With so many people of color working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, it's vital those people feel comfortable living in the rural towns that surround Rochester.
That welcoming attitude hasn't always been present in rural towns, Roberts said.
Saturday's event will begin at 4 p.m. at City Hall in Elgin. About 100 people have shown interest in the event, with about half of them from the Plainview-Elgin-Millville school district boundaries. Most of the others are from the surrounding Wabasha County area.
Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsh said Roberts reached out to both City Hall in Elgin and his office to alert them to the protest. Bartsh said he doesn't have any plans to have deputies monitoring it.
"We’re not expecting any problems because the promoter is from the Elgin area," Bartsh said. "We’re not concerned this will get out of control. They can manage their freedom of speech well."
Roberts said he hopes people hear the message that racism has no place in Elgin or any other community.
"We as white people have a responsibility and a voice to speak up against systemic racism," Roberts said. "Standing up and saying it in your space can be uncomfortable, but is necessary."