Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Around 4 o’clock last Sunday at the Town Amphitheater in the town of Swarthmore, members of the community gathered to express solidarity in light of the current political climate and recent hate crimes on a local and national level.
The Solidarity March was organized by Swarthmore community members in order to “build a community so we can be more unified,” said Kabeera Weissman, one of the event’s organizers. She explained that the community thought about possible responses to recent events across the nation and within Swarthmore, and the idea of a Solidarity March was conceived.
Weissman began the event and invited children up to display their posters for the audience. One held up a poster that read, “America will only be great when there’s no more hate.” Another read, “Go peace!”
“It’s really important for all of us to shine our own little lights,” Trinity Episcopal Church Reverend Joyce Tompkins said. She went on to speak of the good relations between the members of different faiths and beliefs in the community. She made way for the next speaker.
“Swastikas have been drawn on the Swarthmore Campus,” Rabbi Kelilah Miller announced. She went on to say that things like that are made to cause us to distrust each other. “Look around, the angels are us,” she said.
Reverend Sukja Bang spoke about the kind of community Swarthmore is. “We respect each others ideas and views,” she said. To preserve the welcoming nature of Swarthmore, Swarthmore United Methodist Church makes sure to welcome people of different backgrounds and sexual orientations. Bang was surprised to find that their rainbow flag and pole were recently vandalized.
Dr. Angela Tuck, the principal of the Swarthmore Rutledge School, then spoke of the school and its dedication to providing a welcoming environment to its students and the community. She then performed two songs for the crowd.
Reverend William L. B. Gray, Sr. told the audience of his experiences with inequality, but emphasised an important message. “Together as one, we have a lot of power,” Gray said.
Lois Sellers, from the Swarthmore Friends Meeting, finished by reading a jointly composed message to the members of the Swarthmore Community.
Before the march began, some local musicians led the crowd in song. They sang pieces such as This Little Light of Mine, adapted for the occasion. Afterwards, participants formed a line and headed towards Umoja park.
“I believe that we have to live in balance and harmony with each other as people and with all living beings on this planet,” said Mimi Hall, a resident of media.
Abha Lal ‘18, who is associated with the interfaith community at Swarthmore College, said that one thing that compelled her to come was her belief in the importance of connections between the town of Swarthmore and Swarthmore college.
After gathering in Umoja park, the organizers thanked the community for gathering in solidarity, and a child reached up high to hold up one end of a sign that read, “Yes to Civil Rights, No to Hate!”