By David Denson, Gary Crusader
In the aftermath of a rally led by white nationalists two weeks ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, a rally and march was held in Gary to protest that event.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, WE GOT YOUR BACK! was the theme of the march and rally held August 28 on the steps of City Hall. The march was sponsored by the City of Gary’s, Human Relations Commission.
The evening’s event started with a march that began in the 800 block of Broadway and culminated at City Hall. During the three block march some 200 marchers sang and shouted various protest slogans as they made the trek to the rally.
At the rally Gary Human Relations Commission Director Haneefah Khaalig told rally participants, “We are a people of many different races, religions, creeds, backgrounds and origins. Yet with all our differences we stand united tonight against hatred and bigotry, and we will not be intimidated. We believe in freedom of speech but not at the point of violence or the loss of lives.”
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, along with more that 250 mayors from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and The Anti-Defamation League, recently unveiled 10 principles to fight discrimination and promote tolerance. In her remarks at Monday’s event Freeman-Wilson called on citizens to remain vigilant in the fight to end bigotry and hate.
“Those of you who are active in your everyday lives, a message that I want you to take home with you is, not only is this a March and rally it is also a vigil. What I want you to be vigilant against is hatred. The only way that we can ensure that those of us who know better and are willing to do better is that they are willing to come out of their comfort zones. What they can do when confronted by hate speech is to let that person know that that is not what I am about. We need to do it for our children.”
The rally was attended by a broad coalition of African-American, white and Jewish activists, along with representatives from various faith communities.
Whoever thought that in 2017 the country would be fighting against racism and bigotry, fighting to keep the Affordable Care Act, fighting an illegal American Muslim ban, and fighting to keep transgender people in the military. And who would have thought we would be standing here today saying “oh my goodness it’s wrong to stand with the Nazi who my parents and many of your parents fought against, and the KKK. If you come out and march with them you’re considered a good person, give me a break! Who thought we would be here today, but we must do what we must do. We got to stand together, and we have got to fight and stand up together,” said Robin Rich, of Temple Israel.
The day of the rally marked the 54th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, and during the program several speakers alluded to the historic event.
For Lake County Democratic Chairman James Wiser it brought back memoires of another historic event that happened 49 years ago on April 4, 1968. “As a junior in college that year I volunteered to work on the campaign for Robert Kennedy, and I remember the night when Martin Luther King was killed and Kennedy’s speech that night in Indianapolis. What he said that night was that what we need in this country is not division. What we need in the United States is not hatred, what we need is not violence or lawlessness, but it is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another. I think that is the message we need to convey today, tomorrow, and everyday,” said Wiser.