Shawn Dromgoole
Good Neighbors

People Join Black Neighbor For A Walk After He Says He's Afraid To Go Alone

His simple post is uniting his neighborhood and leading to a movement that's spreading.

People around the world have reacted with shock and outrage over the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, after a white police officer was seen on cell phone video, kneeling on Floyd's neck.

I can't imagine the distrust and fear that African Americans must be feeling right now, but a man in Nashville made it real for everyone in a post to his local Next Door site.

Shawn Dromgoole's post to Next Door brought out dozens of neighbors to take a walk with him.Shawn Dromgoole/Instagram

"My family has lived in this neighborhood on the corner of ninth and Knox for 54 years and I'm afraid to walk," Shawn Dromgoole posted to the 12 South Next Door group . Domgoole said even though he grew up in the neighobrhood, new people have moved in over the years, and he now feels like he represents the type of person who would be viewed as suspicious there. "Yesterday I wanted to walk around my neighborhood but the fear of not returning home to my family alive kept me on my front porch. Today I wanted to walk again and I could not make it off the porch."

Dromgoole was surprised and overwhelmed when close to 75 people not only saw his post, they showed up to walk with him, "I was able to voice something that they didn't understand and they saw a real person," he told Fox17 Nashville. "And then there were people on their front porches, clapping and cheering on their balconies, it was so mind-blowing."

Neighbors literally started a movement by accomanying Shawn on his daily walk.Shawn Dromgoole/Instagram

Neighbors, many of whom didn't know each other before, were glad to come out and walk. "I think that was really an act of bravery for him to even share that with us and to let us know how he was feeling, and give us a chance to learn and to support him," neighbor Kristin Keiper-Berneman, who joined on the walk told Fox17.

About 75 neighbors, strollers and dogs in tow, joined Dromgoole on a walk around the block.Shawn Dromgoole/Instagram

Afterwards Dromgoole posted to Next Door, thanking his neighbors for their spontaneous act of support. "Thank you for walking with me and making me feel human and heard."

"Your support at this time has meant the world to me."

With so much pain and suffering being felt in communities across the country right now, Dromgoole says it's important to share our feelings in ways that promote understanding.

"I didn't do any of this to be seen. I just wanted to take a walk in my neighborhood... but if it is going to change the way people see people like me then I want to do that.

You haven't just impacted me, you have also impacted others who look like me, talk like me, and feel like me. You've impacted the world! Can't wait to see you all at our next gathering. Let's walk!"

This week's #WeWalkWithShawn will look a little more like an event than a leisurely walk. If you live in Nashville you can join them Thursday, June 4 at the intersection of 9th Avenue South and Knox Avenue at 5:45 p.m. There'll be walking -- and live music.

How can you start something good?

If you don't live in Shawn Dromgoole's neighborhood, why not look for opportunities where you live to bring neighbors together during this time of distrust and isolation that's been amplified by the coronavirus pandemic. Organize a group "walk" and publicize it on Next Door or other social media. Or as soon as your community allows it, plan a block party or picnic where neighbors can get to know each other.

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