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March for unity deemed ‘a start’

Leading Saturday’s unity rally across Urbanna Bridge are Rev. Jonathan Davis (left) of Urbanna Baptist Church and Rev. Calvin Rideau of Immanuel Baptist Church near Saluda. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

Brought together by the recent shooting tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, more than 60 people rallied for racial unity on Saturday, June 27, in Urbanna. From the comments of the participants, the theme seemed to be finding a way to live together in peace, without racism.

They walked across the Newman Bridge over Urbanna Creek. Some carried signs. “Mean people suck,” one read.

The group gathered on the front lawn of Urbanna Baptist Church for a ceremony in memory of the nine shooting victims.

For some of these folks, the Confederate flag has become a symbol of something they would like to forget. “The Confederate flag is history, but it belongs in a museum, not in a store or hanging over a government building,” said Sarah Barrack, who made the quarter-mile walk to Urbanna Baptist Church using her cane. “It’s something in the past, we should remember it, but we should put it in the past and go forward.”

The past can’t be changed, but the future can influence. And many who attended the ceremony voiced hope that people of all races will find a way to live in harmony.

Charles Thurston of Topping said he came to the rally hoping for a “Peaceful victory, solidarity, love, being loving in a Godly way, and peace, especially in Middlesex County . . . we need peace and love in Middlesex County,” said Thurston, who grew up in Middlesex in the 1950s, then moved to Pennsylvania, and came back four years ago. “I would love to see a big change in Middlesex County among the races. We are not as united as we should be in this county.”

Saturday’s rally was an example of the “solidarity” that Thurston is striving for, he added.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 07.01.2015

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