On Sunday, Charlottesville remembers and tries to dishonor the messages of hate that descended on the hometown of The University of Virginia a year ago when white supremacists/racists marched and killed in the Old Dominion.
They shudder at that day when a hate-filled white supremacist behind the wheel of a car that plowed into a crowd during a protest in that city and killed Heather Heyer and tainted the town with images of bigotry and should of “Jews will not replace us” and “our blood, our soil.”
As Charlottesville tries to remember that tragic day, honor those who resisted the hate and protestors, and recapture what many feel is the true spirt of the area, other feel that much more needs to be done.
“A lot of people here were uncomfortable with what happened on Aug. 12 and said, ‘Let’s just unite and move forward,’ ” 17-year-old Zyahna Bryant, a student activist about to enter her senior year at Charlottesville High School, told The Washington Post this week. “But there hasn’t been the work to go back and reckon with white supremacy. Before we can move on and heal as a community, we have to reckon with that.”
I’ve seen too much white supremacy, hate, bigotry and racism in Virginia over the years. As an elementary school student in Farmville, where the racist Prince Edward County school board and board of supervisors closed the public schools after refusing to integrate, I witnessed the burning crosses of Ku Klux Klan meetings and the racial epithets uttered by young students and even some faculty members of the private school created to provide an education for whites only.
As a young reporter for The Roanoke Times in 1968, I covered protests of the assassination of Martin Luther King while whites waved Confederate flags and shouted “kill the n—–s.”
Today, more than half a decade later, I hear racists here in Floyd County declare unyielding loyalty to a criminal president who uses racism to promote his programs while he loots the American treasury for personal profit.
The racists who organized the violence and murder in Charlottesville a year ago are trying to do the same this weekend in Washington near the White House. Opponents of the racism are expected to overwhelm the haters in numbers.
Racist organizer Jason Kessler, who hopes to repeat what happened in Charlottesville a year ago, is a friend of fellow racist Corey Stewart, the Republican candidate for one of Virginia’s two Senate seats in Congress.
Yes, as young Bryant says in Charlottesville this weekend, we must “reckon with that.”
But first we must recognize that America is still a racist nation with a racist president and led by a racist Congress.
We must face that. We must fight that and we must use whatever means available to drive that racism from our society now and forever.