On Tuesday, over one hundred high school juniors and seniors from both the Englewood Public School District and The Frisch School were brought together in a critical event talking about combating hate in their local community co- sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Bergen County NAACP, The Bergen County National Urban League and the Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton.
The discussion revolved around two internationally renowned human and civil rights speakers brought in to tell their heroic personal stories in combating hate. The speakers included TM Garret, a formerly radicalized member and leader of white supremacist and KKK affiliated groups in Germany who left such movements and founded the not- for-profit C.H.A.N.G.E, a Memphis based organization that engages communities in anti-racist and anti-violence campaigns. Joining Mr. Garret was Dwania Kyles, an original member of the Memphis 13, the group of first grade students who integrated the Memphis school system following the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Ms. Kyles family was also known to be closely engaged with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s efforts and he was expected at the family’s home for dinner on the evening that he was assassinated.
“Hatred, racism, and anti-Semitism is unacceptable and has no place here in Bergen County. Yet, we cannot pretend the national increase in crimes of bias and hate is not a real and growing problem. We must acknowledge it and learn how everyone, whether they are an elected official, a member of law enforcement, or a high school student can take action against it. I hope today’s conversation encouraged these students to speak up and speak out against hatred and bigotry. These students are our future who will carry the torch in the fight against inequality and hatred,” said Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton.
“I believe that in bringing together a diverse pool of students to hear in unison the message of unifying to combat all hate is a very necessary and meaningful step in preparing them for a future that we can all be proud of. I also believe that showing these students the unity in the event sponsorship between the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Sheriff’s office will not be lost upon these students as a shining example of how we all need to work together to combat all forms of hate in our society,” said Michael Cohen, Eastern Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“There is more that unites us than divides us and this program was an important opportunity to build bridges and engage our teens in being part of the powerful force that pushes back against the flames of hate,” said Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Zur who was in attendance.
“I am sure that by bringing together our youth we will have more tolerance in the future”, said Junius F. Carter, III, President of the Bergen County, NAACP.
“This event is a catalyst to the necessary conversation, the elephant in the room if you will. Hate is hate, be it from the left or from the right. We must bond together to speak out against it. A bonded group is the majority. We are the voice of the nation,” said Jeffrey Richardson, Executive Director of the Urban League for Bergen County.