Updated:You think circus -- clowns, animals, acrobats. But the UniverSoul Circus is kicking off the festivities in Memphis with a peace rally.
Things started off with a parade that shut down roads in front of Hickory Ridge Mall.
UniverSoul Circus added a peace rally immediately following the parade - especially with current events in Memphis and nationwide, they say they want to let people know Memphis us a safe place.
Signs from participants included messages encouraging kids to put down the guns and pick up books, save our neighborhoods, save our boys.
A few signs bore messages "stand up to police violence" and "hands up, don't shoot" - these in relation to recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer.
Speaking at today's rally included Aryen Moore-Alston who is being featured on the Food Network Star show. She was born and raised in Italy but calls Memphis home.
She said at today's rally, from Ferguson to Memphis, there are conversations that need to be made about why the violence and racial tensions are circulating.
Aryen Moore-Alston, the Executive Chef at Sweet Potato Baby Bakery says, âIf we keep throwing it under the radar and brushing it under the rug we'll never understand what's going on. I mean, I don't understand why racial tensions are at an all-time high. But it's here and we need to address it and we need to own it and we need to make sure that this is something that doesn't get shushed.â
âIt seems like it is coming at a crucial time with things going on not only in the country but around the world. We decided we wanted to let people know Memphis is a safe place; Hickory Hill is a safe place,â according to Val Copeland, with the UniverSoul Circus.
Many familiar faces around Memphis attest that they are products of our neighborhoods including Hickory Hill and have made a living for themselves. Adding we need to end the tensions and differences among one another.
The UniverSoul Circus begins tonight and goes through Monday. It's in an air conditioned tent. Click here to get your tickets to the UniverSoul Circus.
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