Yesterday was the annual "Stop The Hate" rally in Davis Park (across from the BB&T building, Charleston, WV.) I've been to all sorts of rallies, but this one was about the most touching thing I've ever seen. It started off with a prayer service, but with prayers given by representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hare Krishna, Hindu, Quaker, Christian, B'hai, and Zoroastrian religions. Each representative in the "Circle of Faiths" said a quick prayer for peace (some in song or poem form) and it was truly beautiful!
The Rev. Mel Hoover did a dramatic reading of some of Nelson Mandela's writing, and then the audience took part in a "Unison Reading" -- a group recitation of a statement declaring all people of all faiths, sexual orientation, gender, and heritage as one.
I went there to see the art, to be honest. I had no idea what the rally was about. A friend heard about my Pinwheels for Peace fiasco, and said he could use them for this event.
The park was decked out in butterflies (to represent growth -- the idea came from Mandela's speech that was recited in parts throughout the service) made by local school children. There was also a "wall of remembrance" (top photo) that attendees could add to throughout the evening. The entrance to the park was lined with "Peace Pinwheels that my students made -- each with a message of peace written on it.
There was also music -- Laurel Dennie, Mark Davis, Jack Kennedy, Ron Sowell, and the Voodoo Katz performed tunes that were both touching and entertaining at the same time. I especially enjoyed the song "Verbanna Bridge" by Laurel Dennie.
Unfortunately, the rain came, and I had my two youngest with me, ages 1 and 4. We had to beat feet to get back to the car without getting drenched, so I didn't get to see the end of the service. If I hadn't had them there, I would have stayed in the chilly rain just to be there. It was that awesome! Just the synergy of having a park full of people (it was packed!) wanting the same thing, and standing together as one to promote peace was simply amazing.