Springdale resident Lana Hill noticed her Black Lives Matter sign missing from her front yard on the Fourth of July. She shared the news on her community Facebook page and expressed her support for justice and equality.
Hill, 36, decided immediately to replace the signage and asked her neighbors if they would like to join her when she placed an order. In the process, they would be supporting a company, Signs of Justice, owned by a Black woman and her white husband, Jameesa and Bryan Oakley. of Portland, Oregon. The signs cost $100 for 10.
The response from the Cockeysville neighborhood and beyond was overwhelming.
At last count, about 230 signs have been purchased locally. And that doesn’t include a friend of Hill’s who bought 180 to distribute to her Northwood neighborhood in northeast Baltimore.
Carla Paisley, 46, the city resident, wanted to show her own support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for Hill.
“Lana and I have been connected for some time now, but she mentioned that her yard signs were taken down and that she was receiving some neighborhood pushback over the presence of the signs in general,” Paisley said. “I knew that I wanted signs because I’ve seen similar ones in my own neighborhood.”
Hill, who had placed the sign in her family’s front yard after the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, said it had been up for about three weeks before it was stolen.
After the signs ordered by her neighbors arrived from Portland, she threw a socially distanced sign pickup party in gratitude. The Oakleys, of the sign company, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Last week, Paisley gave the signs to her own neighbors, who weren’t able to make it to Hill’s get-together.
Hill, who owns a company called Hill Bookkeeping & Consulting that assists small-business owners with financial management, said that as a straight, white woman, she is privileged to be in position to advocate for people who aren’t afforded the same opportunities because of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation or their gender identity.
“I want people to know that they can come talk to me and be honest and open because in order for me to talk to anyone about their finances or their business, they have to know that they can share everything with me,” Hill said. “I want people to know that they are welcomed and accepted no matter what.”
Her motivation for defending the ideals of the Black Lives Matter movement comes from the way she was raised, she said. Hill, who grew up in the Amish country of Pennsylvania, believes that all people have an “inherent set of rights — rights that are granted to us simply by us being human.”
“The sheer fact that we are having to continue to have this conversation about racism and elevating the voices of Black and indigenous and people of color in this country in 2020 is frankly shameful,” Hill said. “It’s the only reason why I felt like it was important to me to take this stance because I wasn’t seeing people around me do it.”
Hill felt as though distributing the signs was a way to give back to the community, which includes a number of people of color, and to let them know that they aren’t “other.”
And, Hill has an overriding message for the person who stole her sign.
“If they took it because they wanted it and they just wanted to display it — good on you,” she said. “If they took it because it was something that they wanted to destroy, there’s now two signs in our yard. You taking my signs out of my yard isn’t going to silence me or shut me up in any sort of way.”