As already embattled communities have been left in flames amid the protests-turned-riots over the police-involved death of George Floyd, some folks are looking for more constructive ways to bridge the racial divide. Among them are two best friends — one white, one African American — who have started their own humble movement intended to bring some healing to the country: “Black or White, Relax and Have a Beer.”
The movement is a simple as it sounds: “Relax and have a beer” with people of different races and backgrounds than yourself. And popular country singer Brad Paisley made sure to personally tell the movement’s founders this weekend that he is 100% on board.
New York’s WROC first reported on the nascent movement’s founders, Benjamin Smith and Marcus Ellis, who “wanted to do something small but powerful to help,” following the death of Floyd and protests in the area.
To try to help bring some healing the two men have “set up some lawn chairs, and have camped out in front of Smith’s house in Pittsford,” and put up handwritten signs simply stating, “Black or white, relax and have a beer.”
“You can find them on West Jefferson Road, near the intersection of Clover and Jefferson,” the outlet reported. “They’re near Locust Hill Golf Club. The two says they’ve gotten a handful of people to join them so far, and they have a big lawn to spread out and talk at a safe distance.”
WROC’s Dan Gross stopped by to talk with them and posted some photos of their hand-made signs:
Today, I had a chance to catch up with two great guys, Benjamin Smith and Marcus Ellis. These two best friends have set up camp at Smith's house in Pittsford on Jeff. Road, saying "Black or white, relax and have a beer." #ROC @News_8 pic.twitter.com/N5fP2qtxWH
— Dan Gross (@DJG_Music) June 3, 2020
My most favorite part of this story is seeing the genuine love these two have for each other. Ben was nearly in tears talking about how much the protests upset him, and his friend Marcus held him tight. #ROC @News_8 pic.twitter.com/hbFltloSzh
— Dan Gross (@DJG_Music) June 7, 2020
The two-man movement caught the attention of Paisley, who decided to drop in, at least virtually, and have a beer over the weekend. Ahead of the surprise visit, the singer shipped “hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of beer” to Smith’s house, WROC reported Saturday.
“Man, I am so thrilled to meet you, face to face like this,” Paisley told the two men in a Zoom call. “I’m so inspired by you, and we thought we should deliver more beer than you could possibly drink … This is going to be a popular destination on this street.”
“Hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of beer shipped directly to their house just hours before the Zoom call,” WROC reports, noting that the singer “bought out all of AJ’s Beer Warehouse in Henrietta.”
WROC produced a report on the moment that includes Paisley’s message to the two best friends as well as their at times emotional statement on the racial tensions in the country. WATCH:
Gross responded to Paisley’s surprise virtual visit: “This is surreal. Remember Benjamin Smith and Marcus Ellis? The two best friends who offered: ‘Black or white, relax and have a beer’ on their driveway? Well, they got a surprise call from [Brad Paisley] today, who wanted to take them up on their offer.”
This is surreal. Remember Benjamin Smith and Marcus Ellis? The two best friends who offered: "Black or white, relax and have a beer" on their driveway?
— Dan Gross (@DJG_Music) June 7, 2020
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