|ML King, Jr. Statue in Marshall Park, Charlotte. Photo: Clare Hanrahan|
Report & videography by Ellen Thomas
When the white supremacist group known as American Renaissance attempted to hold a conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN) was there to say No. Daryle Lamont Jenkins, co-founder and spokesperson for One People's Project in Philadelphia alerted Theresa El-Amin, regional organizer and founding director of Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN) to the proposed conference.
Thanks to the work of SARN and the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Community Relations Committee, among many others, including the mayor, the city's hotels refused to host the conference. Perhaps the fact that the Democratic National Convention is slated to be held in Charlotte next year explains the phenomenon. It would be nice (as a North Carolinian) to think that the people in Charlotte are totally sick of racism, in whatever new, more sophisticated manifestation it may don.
Leonard Zeskind, the keynote speaker, gave a fascinating overview of "American Renaissance" and the worldwide white nationalism movement at the forum after the rally (Zeskind is author of "Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream," and President of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights): Video Clip of Zeskind.
The event began with a rally in Marshall Park across from the Blake Hotel, the only place in the vicinity on a Saturday one could possibly find a restroom. (Charlotte might consider providing at least a portable toilet for such a nice park.) The setting, around a statue of Martin Luther King, was ideal for the imaginative signs created by Asheville activists, Coleman Smith and Judith Hallock, and the smorgasbord of participants from all over North and South Carolina and as far away as Maryland and Kansas, with a terrific spread of ages: Video of Southern Anti-Racism Network rally
The Forum, which was held at the library, was moderated by Theresa El-Amin, regional organizer and founding director of Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN), who first introduced Willie Ratchford, Executive Director of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee:
Video of Rally speakers
Then Donna Dewitt, President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, spoke about unions and racism: Donna Dewitt . Donna also reported (off-camera, unfortunately) that union workers at South Carolina nuclear power plants are increasingly aware of the dangers of this form of energy. Daryle Lamont Jenkins, co-founder and spokesperson for One People's Project also spoke: SARN Rally & Forum speakers.
When opening the discussion to audience participation, Theresa El-Amin asked for comments about pending Immigration Laws. There was discussion of the shortcomings of the so-far-aborted DREAM Act and the Congressional push to cancel birthright for children of formerly undocumented workers born in the United States: Dream Act speaker
It was great to meet these folks. I hope you'll take time to listen to what they had to say.
Tryon, North Carolina