COLUMBIA, Mo. -

People gathered in Douglass Park Wednesday night for a peaceful rally of sorts called the Back To School Explosion.

Organizers call it an opportunity to promote peace, hope, unity, family, and community.  Those are all values participants said are extremely important to hold on to, especially what's happening only an hour and a half away in Ferguson.

"I think we need to be proactive instead of reactive and i think that's what's going on over there. They're reacting to something they don't even have all the answers to. But we want to be proactive, and we are, coming out and being involved," participant Sam Whatley said.

Participant Dennis Moore Jr. agreed.

"In ferguson, it's people protesting, carrying weapons, and here it's just people uniting," Moore Jr. said.

Through music, speakers, and activities, organizers are hoping this rally sent a message.

And people who attended believed it did, and in a more effective way than violent protests like Ferguson.

"It shows how instead of being violent, you can be kind and nice and loving and there can be way bigger outcomes," participant Eryka Wanyonyi.

The event started Wednesday and will happen again Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m.  It will also happen Friday from 2 to 8 p.m.  Both nights will be at Douglass Park.

For more information, call 573-864-1647.