Community stands together against racism

Bradie Gray

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said he believes racism can be halted by treating people with dignity and respect.

He was one of four local officials – Robert Dion, Danyelle Granger and the Rev. Gerald Arnold – who spoke at the Take a Stand Against Racism rally Thursday at the University Center Amphitheater.

Winnecke, who has spoken at the rally for three years, said his message is essentially the same year after year.

“It’s very important to me to carry a message that how we treat each other is important,” he said. “When I first started saying this a number of years ago, people thought it was kind of hokey and teased me about it but I really do believe nice matters.”

Winnecke said he doesn’t care if he’s talking to college students or kindergarteners, he always tries to “weave in” a message about the importance of treating people nicely – with dignity and respect.

“I think every city needs to have a reminder of the importance of the existence of racism,” he said. “I think it’s really timely given what’s going on in our state, but I would argue that every city in the country needs to have something like this on a regular basis.”

Nicole Ealy, a senior psychology major, had a similar mantra on stopping racism.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority member who made a banner that read “We can end racism by…” for those attending the rally to sign, said everyone must understand what racism is in order to prevent it.

“Racism is people discriminating against each other and not being together as a whole,” she said. “It’s segregated, so we all have to come together to make it a better place.”

“People have to care about it to stop it,” she said.

She said it’s important to tell the world that racism still exists today – and according to Angela Batista’s speech, it does.

Batista presented statistics proving that racism is still alive in America today.

Batista said a simple Google search led her to many acts of racism that have been committed just this week – from police shootings to comments on the internet about President Obama.

Jay Dickerson, the director of the Center for Social Justice who spearheaded the rally, said he enjoyed every speech, but especially Dion’s.

“Those who think racism doesn’t exist are the same people who think Iggy Azalea has street cred and Kanye West is a humble and honorable person,” Dion said to the crowd.

“I have to say that I probably chuckled a little bit more at Dr. Dion’s speech, but I think that they all did remarkable,” Dickerson said.

He said he thought the whole event was incredible.

“I am just so pleased,” he said. “I actually feel like a proud dad when their child does something very remarkable. From our speakers to the campus representatives, they just all did a lovely job.”

Dickerson said his favorite part was watching the Joshua Academy choir sing “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson.

“I’m so proud of our campus,” he said, “and so proud of our community.”