I am Jay Zimmerman, Coordinator of Facing Racism, just two of many hands that have made this project possible.
It is so heart warming to be here tonight with you as I look out at so many familiar faces and so many others who have taken the time to help celebrate this project with us.
It is especially wonderful to see us together in community for this event, made even more significant in light of the events this week nationally– around the country and here at home—the loosening of racism and other bigotry in its most repugnant forms. We will hear about Facing Racism tonight but we are still Facing Racism and have been. Last evening we learned that the MLK Freedom Bus had been vandalized. Racism and bigotry are just even further out of the closet now.
I am buoyed by our community here tonight, by those who have fought the struggle and continue to stand strong, devoted and committed to the triumph of human dignity and human rights.
Tonight I want to call on all allies to stand strong in opposition to the intolerance and bigotry we see all around us. It’s not like it hasn’t been there but now the purveyors feel empowered. It will take all of us –men and women, white, black, yellow, brown, straight and gay, able bodied and disabled to stand strong and build our wall –a wall against intolerance and hate and injustice so that again
WE SHALL OVERCOME
The stories you will hear tonight are filled with pain and struggle but also with hope and love and triumph. Our storytellers have been brave and open and continue to overcome. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts and hope to do them justice tonight.
And we commit to them and to others to walk with them and continue the struggle to overcome.
This will be I hope a touching and moving evening.
It is our hope that these stories affect lives, open minds, produce constructive dialogue, educate, inform and ultimately lead to change. Stories are powerful. They can change lives by bringing home the personal experiences of people’s “neighbors,” people in our community who we may see and pass by daily but do so unaware. The exposure to these personal stories has been deeply moving for all of us working on the project who have read them. We hope they do the same for you. Through understanding that we truly are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers we can move forward to create significant change in our community.
It can be a long journey
There is no hiding now for anyone. Racism is naked on the table for all to see and we must step up, especially those of us who can choose or have chosen to stay safe in our privilege. This affects us all. We must step up, step out and be heard and
WE SHALL OVERCOME!