Today we uploaded three new files to the Not In Our Town Action Kit: Materials from West Virginia's successful multi-pronged action campaign titled, West Virginia: No Place for Hate. Though this counter-protest occured in 2010, we believe these resources remain relevant and inspiring today. West Virginia leaders came together after Fred Phelps' Westboro hate group announced it would picket Catholic and Jewish institutions in the two towns, a local university, and a mine where more than a dozen miners had recently lost their lives. The Not In Our Town Action Kit is a hidden gem on NIOT.org, compiling resources from communities standing up to hate and intolerance. In addition to these materials from West Virginia, you will find:
Here you will find materials used by other communities to stand up to hate in their town. You may download these materials and use them as inspiration in your own communities. Charleston and Wheeling, West Virginia In 2010, Fred Phelps' Westboro hate group announced it would picket Catholic and Jewish institutions in the two towns, a local university, and a mine where more than a dozen miners had recently lost their lives. The community launched "West Virginia: No Place for Hate," a multi-pronged action campaign that was featured on NIOT.org. The statement below was published as a full-page ad in two Charleston newspapers in the spring of 2010. The heart image appeared alongside the statement as a tear-out poster, which community members were encouraged to display on their windows that week, as a response to messages of hate and representation of the "power of love in [the] community." Meanwhile, the West Virginia "No Place for Hate" poster was designed, printed and distributed by the WV Chamber of Commerce.
Not In Our School wishes to thank all of the students who submitted artwork to the 2012 Not In Our School Class Actions Campaign Art Contest. We had more than 40 submissions this year from students all across the country! All the pieces demonstrated the creativity and imagination of the artists who made them. Six students’ unique designs stood out for their ability to clearly translate the words “Not In Our School” into visually-striking images with a message of inclusion. We are happy to award these six students for their inspired work and the commitment that they have made to stand up against bullying in their schools. “No Bullying” by Zahir Rosa, Grade 5, Massachusetts
There is a moment in the documentary, Light in the Darkness, that has lingered with West Virginia resident Paul Sheridan. In the film, Patchogue, N.Y. mayor Paul Pontieri returns to the intersection where Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was murdered. Pontieri meets a man, he discovers, who has been a neighbor to Pontieri’s family for 25 years. “I didn’t know who he was,” Pontieri says. “Do they make themselves invisible, or do we make them invisible by not seeing them?” It’s a relevant question for many communities with changing demographics. Sheridan, a community leader who cares about safety and inclusion, asks, “What are the communities that we are blind to? That’s the question that hangs in the air a little bit, and we haven’t really thought through how we’re reaching out.”
What can you do when a notorious hate group targets a wide array of institutions in your community, each of which has its own leadership, values, and organizational methods? That's the situation that faced Charleston and Wheeling, West Virginia in March, when Fred Phelps' Westboro hate group announced it would picket Catholic and Jewish institutions in the two towns, a local university, and a mine where more than a dozen miners had recently lost their lives. What they came up with was "West Virginia: No Place for Hate," a multi-pronged action campaign that was featured on NIOT.org last month. NIOT executive producer Patrice O'Neill spoke to some of the campaign leaders, including members of OneKanawha, the NIOT group in Charleston. "Turning Hate into Opportunity in West Virginia" features the lessons they've shared.
What can a community do when a hate group comes to town and targets a wide variety of organizations, each of which have different ideas of how to respond -- or not? That's what happened in Charleston and Wheeling, West Virginia in March 2010. The Westboro Baptist Church hate group announced it would picket Jewish and Catholic institutions, a local university, and, as a last-minute addition designed for maximum emotional anguish, the Montcoal Mine, where a dozen miners had just lost their lives. How could the community respond, particularly when some people preferred to keep a low profile, while others wanted to stage a loud counter-protest? Who could even lead such a community response, given the different values of the targeted groups? A coalition of local leaders convened at Temple Israel, one of the targeted institutions, and decided they had to present a united front. The message had to be broad enough to include everyone, but specific enough to show opposition to the hatred espoused by Westboro.
Charleston, West VA, Video and Slideshow. A positive wave of energy has emerged from West Virginia, as people in Charleston and Wheeling spread love in the face of the Westboro Baptist hate group. Stop the Hate Rallies, Spread the Love flash mobs, and yard signs of unity dramatically overwhelmed the bigoted placards carried by the Fred Phelps family (known as Westboro Baptist Church) The small band of bigots—known for their anti-gay venom-- targeted Jewish and Catholic institutions and a local university in Charleston. Horrifically, as news from the Montcoal Mine disaster became more tragic, the hate group also targeted the community of fallen miners.
From November 3 to 6, Not in Our Town Executive Producer Patrice O'Neill and Civic Engagement Coordinator Jason Wallach toured West Virginia and led a series of open discussions about how to build safe, strong, hate-free communities throughout the state.
Not in Our Town staff is gearing up for some big events in Morgantown and Charleston, WV next week. In the meantime, we offer a tip of the hat to folks at West Virginia University (in Morgantown), who have put together the "One WVU" campaign that celebrates the diversity on campus and makes clear that bigotry will not be tolerated. The campaign was initiated by WVU soccer coach Marlon LeBlanc. The coach responded to an incident where one of his team's players, who is black, was showered with racial epithets by youth in a passing car. The One WVU campaign has been embraced by university authorities who now sponsor an annual diversity week that boasts more than 40 events. The videos below were produced by the One WVU campaign. Patrice O'Neill, executive producer of the Working Group, will travel the state to talk about creative efforts to build safe, hate-free communities. MORGANTOWN EVENT:Where: WVU Mountainlair Gluck TheaterWhen: 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 CHARLESTON EVENTS:When: Wednesday, November 4th, 2009Where: 3 p.m. Charleston Area Alliance, 1116 Smith StreetWhere: 7 p.m. YWCA of Charleston, 1114 Quarrier St.