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.”
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.