Fran Southworth: Why I Stood On The Bridge

Fran Southworth has lived in Westport for 29 years. She is part of Indivisible Connecticut 4, and the Facebook Love in Action group.

Last night — saddened and horrified by the events in Charlottesville — she felt compelled to act. Fran writes:

Seeing the images of the University of Virginia students made me think about my own kids when they were in college, and the horror if they had been confronted with such hatred, intolerance and racism. Because of the hateful slogans chanted by the white supremacists, and the physical actions that caused at least 1 death and many injuries, I felt the need to unify as a community. We needed to come together to voice our opposition to hate, and teach our children and grandchildren that what they are witnessing now is not what America is all about.

So I decided to do a pop-up peaceful gathering on our bridge in Westport. I thought I might  be standing there alone with my sign: “Normalize Love Not Hate! Honk if You Agree.”

Getting Darcy Hicks involved was a sure way to gather people.

This morning Melissa Kane contacted me. We chatted about our similar family history. She spread the word as well.

Then a new activist friend, Juliana Hess, told her group. We were off and running.

Juliana wrote beautifully that people in Europe would never have sat back and done nothing if they knew what was coming. My Jewish grandparents ran for their lives from Russia. They and others told me stories of friends and relatives who ran. Many were killed in the Holocaust. Others survived. All taught me: “Never Again.”

Never again — yet Charlottesville just happened. I feel very deeply the pain, destruction and horror it has caused. I also say: “Never Again.”

Fran Southworth (center), flanked by Myra Garvett and Darcy Hicks, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge earlier today.

I also want to speak out for my close friend and singing partner, an African American woman. Because of the history of slavery and racism in America, blacks have always struggled here. But things are worsening, with white supremacists set loose by the tacit acceptance of our administration toward violence and intolerance.

My friend explained to me that they don’t want to have a separate “Black Lives Matter” presence. Unfortunately they have to.

We have to stop these white supremacists in their tracks. We must make it very clear that they — and their hate and intolerance — have no place in our communities. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are the antitheses of our American values.

The president said there are many sides to this. There are no other sides to hatred and bigotry. I watched David Duke, a former KKK leader, say that President Trump told them they will take back our country.

No! We will take back our country. We will continue to live up to the American ideals of tolerance and inclusion of all people.

We need to let our politicians know that this is a very important issue for all of us. It’s not about anyone’s political party or agenda. It’s about human decency, compassion and respect.

10 responses to “Fran Southworth: Why I Stood On The Bridge

  1. Thank you for saying something. As a black person living in Westport, I never know where folks stand and was worried that the sentiment held by those in Virginia could be widely held. I’m certainly proud to know that good people here in Westport will not stand for hate of any kind.
    How do I find out more about things like the pop-up that happened today?

    • Myra Garvett

      Please join ICT4, Indivisible Connecticut 4.
      Our website is
      You will meet many like-minded people who will not stand for hate of any kind! Our calendar is filled with events, marches, speakers, activities, rallies, and is updated everyday. You can also follow our ICT4 Facebook page.

  2. Bonnie Bradley

    I echo “how do I find out” which Jenae wrote above, and support her entire comment. I live in Litchfield County, just a little more than 1 hour from Westport, but lived in Westport for my entire life until 1998. I would be glad to hear about events like the demonstration on the bridge in advance so that I could possibly participate. Life sometimes interferes but if I had advance notice I might be able to – enthusiastically – join in. Just saying… My roots are there: once a Westporter, always a West(sup)porter.

    • Frannie Southworth

      Hi! If you are on Facebook I recommend:
      1. defendemocracy Ct
      2. Love in Action
      3. Join our local Indivisible ICT 4 Group
      They have a website and a Facebook page
      4. Pantsuit Nation
      5. We also have a local Westport Democrat group and a larger CT Democrat Group
      All of these will let you know when various events are taking place!!!!!
      The pop-up peaceful protest was just an idea I had last night, and with the help of all of these groups, we put it into action and had a great turn out! See you next time.

  3. Susan Iseman

    Well said, Fran!

  4. fran thanks for organizing this, so happy that you took such quick action. we were away or i would have been there on the bridge with you.

  5. Thanks, Frannie, for leading this effort; and thanks, too, for all the info about how to connect. Love you!

  6. Roger Kaufman

    Amen and thanks Fran….we were protesting on that spot for all the same reasons in 1965-6, having marched on Washington prior.
    Its a sad state of affairs how civil & human rights progress has not “progressed” as much as we all hoped.
    But we will keep the faith and as always… do our thing!!!

    Roger Kaufman

  7. Kathleen M. Stuart

    Thank you Fran for your courage and commitment to the values a true American holds dear: freedom to practice ones religion without fear , life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! Equality and tolerance
    peaceful discourse, peaceful acceptance of ideas, and rejection of those ideas that are hateful and destructive to all who live in a society that values all human beings right to live a peaceful loving life. Those who generate hate violence bigotry are sad members of a society where there is no need for their hatred.

  8. Standing on the bridge is a long Westport tradition. Bill Buckley and I stood on the bridge every Saturday morning with sometimes dozens, sometimes with a few others to stop the war in Iraq. Bill and so many others stood on the bridge to protest the Vietnam War. They stood on the bridge to support the nascent Civil Rights movement. It’s sad – but it’s time to stand on the bridge again – Ruth Steinkraus Cohen would be proud of everyone who stands on the bridge for the values she cherished.
    Judy Hamer