We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette. Kalamazoo residents gather at the Light Fine Arts building on Kalamazoo College campus to participate in a vigil to mourn the lives lost at the shooting in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Kalamazoo, MI. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor at a prayer meeting inside a historic black church. Photo by Daytona Niles, AP / The Kalamazoo Gazette.
Action Steps from Not In Our Town
On June 17, nine people lost their lives at a Bible study inside Charleston, SC’s historic "Mother Emanuel" AME Church, at the hands of a 21-year-old man, poisoned by racism and hate. People grieving and filled with outrage are asking: What can we do? The most effective way to respond to the hate attack in Charleston is to take action locally.
Over the last 20 years, Not In Our Town, a movement of people across the country working to stop hate and bullying, has learned one indisputable thing: The solutions to hate violence and bigotry require each of us to participate.
Here are three ways you can take immediate action and stand up to hate:
- Send a Message of Support to Charleston: Show the families of the nine victims and other church members that they are not alone. They need to know they are surrounded by people who care. Post messages online or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and Not In Our Town will share them, print them, and send them on to the AME church. Send a donation to the families. The outpouring of support can mean so much to the community in this time of darkness and grief.
- Act Locally/Connect with People in Your Town: Bring your community together to honor those who were killed through vigils, church services, and gatherings. This moment of sadness and heightened awareness is a time to bridge differences. Reach out to people who may be targets of hate or intolerance. Get in touch with Black churches in your town and bring together different religious and community groups. Sign banners and pledges to share with those in South Carolina and elsewhere. Include local law enforcement in your planning, and ask them to make sure all community members feel safe. (See examples below.)
- Commit to Ongoing Action to Stop Hate and Bigotry: Form a NIOT group that works to build a safe, inclusive community for everyone. Make a commitment to take ongoing action to prevent hate in our schools, workplaces and communities. Open dialogues about how to build better understanding about racism and bias. Start by signing the NIOT Pledge and sharing it with friends and family.
Inspiration from the NIOT Network
As you plan your actions to honor the victims of hate and violence in Charleston, here are a few examples of what others are doing around the country:
- At the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin’s Sunday service, community members will be encouraged to sign a banner and messages of support to be sent to Charleston.
- The Not In Our Town group in Bowling Green, OH is holding a special community-wide event on Monday evening.
- The Not In Our Town group in Marshalltown, IA is holding a vigil on Wednesday.
- Not In Our Town group in Bloomington-Normal, IL is planning a vigil at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, where their NIOT movement began.
- Law enforcement leaders in the Not In Our Town network are participating in local responses in Princeton and Newark, NJ.
- Coer d’Alene Human Relations Task Force, ID sent a letter of support to the Mayor of Charleston and published it in their local paper.
- Vigils have taken place across the United States, in Charleston, SC, Decatur, IL, Berkeley, CA, Clarksville, TN Portland, OR. New York City, NY, Washington, DC and more.
What will you do in your town to say, “No hate, no fear, no violence. Not In Our Town.”?