An anti-bullying rally, the first of what organizers said will be an annual event, was Saturday at Bryant Commons.
Organizer Lisa Brown said she felt driven to do something after hearing stories of children, some who have taken their own lives, being bullied.
"I found myself with an overwhelming desire to do something within the community to raise awareness," Brown said. "As a teenager, I was bullied. But not for very long because I would not allow the bully to intimidate me.
"Unfortunately, a lot of kids and even adults feel that they are not strong enough to stand up to the person that’s bullying them. I recall many times stepping in to help someone in school that was being picked on or bullied. I was not a bystander and I certainly did not find humor in making fun of someone."
Brown said she and Paulette McRae planned the event. They two reached out and found people willing to help. Brown said McRae’s help was instrumental.
Brown said Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry and board members Lily Baker and Verdell Jones spoke at the rally. Jones was emcee.
Representatives from the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire provided an anti-bullying seminar.
"Kim Blackmon of Live Oak Church Of God, along with several of their Prayer Warriors were on hand to pray with those in need," Brown said. "The crowd received a very enlightening speech from Mrs. Blackmon as she prayed with everyone."
Brown said Live Oak Church of God recording artist Charlene Jenkins performed a song.
"She said to me, ‘Lisa, God has given me a song to sing at the anti-bullying rally,’" Brown said, adding the song, "Be Nice Save a Life" brought her to tears.
Poets Leetefa and McKenzie Frasier delivered a message, Brown said, while DJ Fenuku Eatmon played music.
"While we did not have the crowd we anticipated for the rally, the folks that came out said it was really wonderful and very helpful," Brown said. "Some were dealing with ongoing bullying issues. There were even adults that shared they were being bullied at work."
She said they gave away gift cards and cash prizes and had a meal catered by Sweet and Spicy out of Savannah.
Brown said health issues and stage fright had her questioning whether to organize the rally.
"However, it was not long before I realized what that unsettling feeling was," she said. "I had failed to ask for God’s guidance to ensure that what I was doing lined up according to his will, not mine."
Brown said she is planning next year’s rally and it is tentatively set for early June.