When Hansen Rodger read the poem “Hey Black Child” to a crowd at the June 7 Black Lives Matter rally in Ault Park, it was clear that his interest in activism had begun, says his mother, Martha Rodger. What had been an “inspiring and empowering” experience for the 9-year-old turned into a desire to give back.
“He was super pumped to do a lemonade stand,” Rodger says. “Finally, we decided to sit down and plan it.”
With the help of a few family friends, the mother-son pair set up a two-day stand in Oakley to raise money for Mass Action for Black Liberation, the local organization that organized the Ault Park rally and was formerly known as Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati. Originally, Rodger had low expectations for how many drivers would stop. But the community’s response to the stand, she says, was incredible.
“We thought we would make $15 or something like that,” Rodger says. “But so many people wanted to stop and donate. It was really encouraging to see where the hearts of [Cincinnatians] lie.”
With the help of apps like Venmo and social media posts by Rodger, the stand raised more than $5,900 for Mass Action for Black Liberation. On Wednesday, Hansen personally delivered the final check to the organization, which was chosen because of its focus on Cincinnati.
As a white mother raising a biracial child, Rodger wanted to underscore the importance of connecting Hansen to his heritage. “It’s really important to us that he is connected to his culture,” Rodger says. “To empower him to be a strong black child and eventually a strong black man.”
Although there are currently no plans for another lemonade stand, Rodger says Hansen has already been thinking of other organizations to help and new ways to raise money for them. “It’s been such a fun experience for both him and us,” Rodger says. “Especially to see how he took it all in and ran with it.”