In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities.” Today, 55 years later, we have the same hope. However, August 12th last year proved that racial prejudice has yet to pass away. Our community witnessed white supremacists, KKK members, and neo-Nazis parading through the streets of Charlottesville and spewing hate. These extremists say our President has given them license to speak. When Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides,” he proved them right.
There was no equivalence on August 12th. Nazis are not “very fine people,” and the America my father grew up in knew that. He served as an Army officer in World War II to help destroy their monstrous cause. Last year on August 12th, the counter-protesters shared those values and Heather Heyer gave her life for them. She believed in racial justice. She believed in gender equality. She was, as her mother Susan Bro told me, a “rescuer.” She helped people whenever she could and protected children from troubled homes. The second before she died, a photograph captured Heather looking into the face of the man who was about to take her life. She was, as her mother saw it, angry “that he dared to do this, that he dared to hurt people.” Until the last minute, she worked to fight the dark clouds of racial prejudice. In Heather Heyer’s honor, let’s move forward.
Racism and anti-Semitism are the stock-in-trade of white supremacists and have no place in Charlottesville, a city proud of its tolerance and diversity. Today, let's celebrate the city Heather loved, where "justice for all" still resonates.