When the world seems like a dark place, sometimes you need to be the light.
On Sunday, August 27, citizens of Keene gathered together to respond to the recent events that occurred in Charlottesville, VA.
St. James Episcopal Church’s Rector Elsa Worth helped create the event.
“We didn’t call it a protest or a vigil or a demonstration,” Worth said. “It was simply a gathering to be the light and the love of Keene.”
Hundreds of individuals lined the sidewalks of Main Street in Downtown Keene with lit candles. The line extended from West Street to slightly before Emerald Street on one side, and from Roxbury Street to right before Eagle Court on the other.
“It was really beautiful to see the candles line the street, Worth said. “It was just what we hoped–bringing people together in an uplifting way.”
Everyone shared a moment of silence before the participants began singing “This Little Light of Mine” and “Lean on Me.”
Keene State College Associate Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Dottie Morris was one of the event’s attendees.
“I was just really amazed,” Morris said, following the event. “I was just really excited. It felt really good. I feel inspired. It’s just so nice that so many people with so much love and light.”
The event was hosted by the Keene Interfaith Clergy Association. One of its members, Cindy Cheshire, is the Catholic Campus Minister at the Newman Center, “which provides campus ministry to Keene State and the other, area colleges,” according to Cheshire.
“One of the reasons I think we settled on this date is because the students would be back,” Cheshire said, “…we thought it was a neat opportunity for the students to be involved in the greater city of Keene.”
There were a few KSC students that attended the event, including sophomore political science major Emily Foy. Foy said her friends asked her to attend the event with them, and she eagerly agreed.
Prior to the event, Foy said, “I’m very excited for tonight. Hopefully it’ll be good and calm and peaceful and people can come together.”
With participants gathered in Central Square, Mayor Kendall Lane kicked off the event with a speech.
“We are not here tonight to engage in protest,” Lane stated. “We are here to support our fellow human beings in peace and love and compassion…In this region, we are committed to being inclusive. We welcomes of all people, regardless of their race, religion, sexual identity or cultural heritage, and we strive to enable every person to reach their full, human potential.”
Following Lane’s speech, New Hampshire State Representative Jay Kahn delivered his own speech.
“The hate and bigotry recently expressed is repugnant and unrepresentative of our nation’s goals,” Kahn stated. “…Tonight we stand intentionally with people across our nation who possess the courage to confront racial and religious and gender bigotry, and we unite with them in creating respectful safe communities in which all our valued and secured.”