The Sign Holder

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I was walking in downtown Ann Arbor when I crossed the street and encountered a man holding a sign.

AMERICA

Welcomes

IMMIGRANTS

Including my

ANCESTORS

I began to pass by him and a made a round of applause gesture in affirmation of what he was doing. But then, I decided to stop. I requested his permission for a photo and asked if I could share about this on my blog. “Sure!” he said enthusiastically.

His name is Kent Bourland, and it was wonderful to take a little time to get to know him. I asked him, “What motivates you to do this?”

He said, “I’m out here almost every day. And I will be out here almost every day until all the migrant children are reunited with their parents. Every single one.” Some of his other signs address these separations directly.

I asked him why he chose to act in this way. Arguably, in response to his sign, America isn’t welcoming of immigrants right now, at least on the whole. He said that he wants to counter the narratives behind that.

“You know, I decided to do this because I got tired of feeling like there was nothing I could do.” He found something he could do uniquely, and in doing so, he has started a lot of conversations and encouraged more forms of action.

I noticed he was wearing a suit. “Gracious, you must be really hot,” I said, also noticing that water bottles were sticking out of his suit pockets.

“Yeah, I want to come dressed like this because I don’t want anyone to write me off saying, ‘Oh, he’s just some hippie.'” Kent Bourland is outside holding signs, building empathy and changing perspectives.

“You know, I decided to do this because I got tired of feeling like there was nothing I could do.”

I wonder what we can uniquely do.

Renee Roederer

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