Somerset County News

Community for Unity Rally in Somerville Hopes to Inspire Tolerance

104999f14beb2d83789a_sompixcommunityforunitylogo.jpg
104999f14beb2d83789a_sompixcommunityforunitylogo.jpg

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Jews and Muslims, Christians and Buddhists, Republicans and Democrats, men, women, whites, blacks, and people of multiple ethnicities will join together Monday night, Aug. 28 at the historic Somerset County Courthouse to decry hatred, prejudice and bigotry and deliver a message of tolerance and respect for one another on the anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Mayor Brian Gallagher and Steve Peter, Borough Council president; Rev. Paul Janssen of the United Reformed Church, 100 W. Main St., along with a dozen or more lawmakers, clergy and activists, will speak at the rally.

Organizers of the "Community for Unity Rally: A Call To Action" invite people to begin gathering on the courthouse lawn, 20 E. Main St., at 5:30 p.m. A 5-minute excerpt of the “I Have a Dream” speech will be shown at 5:55 p.m., with speakers scheduled to deliver their remarks at 6 p.m.

Sign Up for E-News

“I’ll talk about the amazing diversity that we have here in New Jersey; it’s what makes us such a strong state,” said state Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-16th. “There’s been so much divisiveness and hostility. It is beholden on us as Americans to rise above the hatred and take care of our neighbors – that’s what we do in New Jersey,” he added.

“The hope is that beyond this gathering that people go out and spread a message of acceptance and good will,” Zwicker said.

Monday’s rally is an outgrowth of an impromptu gathering of 75 people at the Unitarian Universalist Church on E. Cliff Street on Aug. 16, according to one of the organizers, Donna Volpe, who is the founder of the Somerville chapter of Hate Has No Home Here.

She and several others, angered by the violence and aftermath of the clashes in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month involving right-wing extremists felt the need to "do something," Volpe explained. Many who gathered for that rally expressed the need to further express their outrage and rejection of the extremists' agenda, prompting Volpe to reach out to friends of a similar mind.

“In the wake of the Charlottesville incident, I’ve heard so many people say ‘That’s not us;” ‘That’s not my town;’ “That’s not America.’ Unfortunately, it is,” Peter said.

“Yeah, there’s a problem, and we need to address that so that Somerville and Somerset County don’t get to that point,” he added.

Volpe, along with Kristen Mehrbach, Andrea Stathatos, Michelle Edgar, Karen Gaffney and Jen Kitchen, have been busy the past 10 days planning the rally.

Their goal is to help facilitate understanding, unity and cooperation in the community through heightened awareness and getting people engaged, according to Mehrbach.

The Somerset County Diversity Cultural Coalition is sponsor of the event. Tulsi Maharjan, executive director, will speak at the rally.

Other speakers include State Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman, R-16; Joe Forte, secretary of the NJ LGBT Democratic Caucus Victory Fund Campaign Board; M. Ali Chaudry, president, Islamic Society of Basking Ridge and co-founder, NJ Interfaith Coalition; Rabbi Dan Selsberg, Temple Sholom; Ron Isaacs, Rabbi Emeritus.Temple Sholom; Mark Williams, member AACT-NOW; Karen Gaffney, professor of English, Raritan Valley Community College and author of the soon-to-be-released book, "Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox;" Carina Gonzalez, Outreach Librarian and professor at RVCC and Aldo Martinez, immigration attorney.

Each of the speakers is limited to 3 minutes, according to Volpe; a separate “candidates’ corner’’ for those seeking elected office in November will permit those office seekers an opportunity to interact with the crowd.

Information tables for the various organizations expected will be available; the organizers will also have markers available for those interested to sign their sentiments on a “Community for Unity” banner that they hope will be displayed in a public place in Somerville at a later date, according to Volpe.

The women emphasize that their newly-formed grass roots organization is non-partisan and not affiliated with any political organizations. Volpe's Hate Has No Home Here, and the Central Jersey Community Coalition are also playing a part in the rally.

"We invite you to join us in promoting UNITY in our community and in all communities of conscience," is their message on the website.

Civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. delivered his defining "I Have a Dream" speech 54 years ago on Aug. 28 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom;. He called for an end to racism in the United States and called for civil and economic rights. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the speech was a defining moment for the Civil Rights movement.

Borrowing from the theme of King's speech, Community for Unity offers the following message on its Facebook page:

"We Have a Dream---that all human beings, of all colors, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, nationalities, abilities, races, sexual orientations, religions, and economic backgrounds are treated EQUALLY under the law and are accepted as EQUAL in the hearts and minds of citizens here and everywhere.

"We Have a Dream---that within our lifetimes, rallies will not need to be held in order to promote the ideas of compassion, conscience, and connectedness.

"We Have a Dream---that all of us actively and vociferously reject the scourge of racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry whenever and wherever we witness it. Furthermore, we commit to confronting white supremacist ideology in our communities, institutions, and personal lives.

"This is our dream, and this is the reality we must work together to create."

Further information is available online at facebook.com/communityforunitynj/ 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

New Brunswick Civic League Leader Still Looking for New Challenges After 48 Years at Helm

June 16, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - After 48 years of leading the charge for change in New Brunswick, Dr. C. Roy Epps can still be found quietly working on weekends in The Civic League of Greater New Brunswick offices.

The tireless commitment of the 77-year-old President and CEO of this non-profit has helped provide residents access to a variety of health, housing and education services over the ...

Couple Netted $8M from Fake Uggs, Designer Bags, Prosecutor Says

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Plainsboro couple could face charges of of selling counterfeit designer shoes and handbags, netting $8 million and sending $3 million to people in China, authorities said today.

Yan Shi, 36, and her husband, Weiping Liu, 40, were arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree money laundering and second-degree conspiracy to violate the New Jersey Trademark ...

Brookside Pool Club Celebrating 65th Anniversary

MILLTOWN, NJ - The calendar may not officially say summer, but the water is certainly fine at the borough's Brookside Swim Club. Brookside is marking its 65th anniversary this year and the festivities will make a big splash of fun as they do every June, July and August.

Weather dampened the swim club's grand opening weekend. Brookside opens up to its members young and young at heart ...

Applications to Rutgers Jumps Nearly 10 Percent; Increase from Out-of-State Students

June 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Applications to Rutgers University this year increased 9.4 percent over last year, university President Robert Barchi told the Board of Governors at a meeting this week.

The university received nearly 45,000 applications this year, Barchi said.

That included a 20 percent increase in the number of students from out-side New Jersey applying to Rutgers, the university ...

The ESCNJ Offers Innovative Software To Strengthen School Transportation

June 20, 2018

   New software promising greater speed and efficiency for school transportation departments is now available through the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ).

   The software is the result of a two year collaboration between the Princeton based Artha Systems, an international supplier of business management software, and the ESCNJ.

“The software ...

Watson Coleman Introduces Resolution Acknowledging the Failures of the War on Drugs

As the House prepares to vote on more than 20 bills aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic over the next two weeks, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) announced a resolution that seeks parity in the treatment of drug use and addiction and a formal apology for the War on Drugs. H.Res. 933 expresses the sense of Congress that the War on Drugs failed, and calls out the disparate treatment of ...

MCRO Chairwoman Panos Celebrates Re-Election, Promises Party Unity to Defeat Menendez

FORDS, NJ-  Middlesex County Republican Organization (MCRO) Chairwoman Lucille Panos of Old Bridge was re-elected to a second two-year term as that organization's chairwoman.  Also re-elected were Edison chairwoman Sylvia Engel as vice-chair, and South Brunswick chairwoman Antonia Kulberda as secretary.  Rounding out the victors was Harold Kane of Monroe, ...

Small Business Ownership vs. Entrepreneurship

Written by: Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column, Published on 6/18/2018

Tags: Business, Community, Crowdfunding, Economy, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Small Business

Source: So, which are you – a Small Business Owner or an Entrepreneur? We compare the similarities and differences between the two, so you can ...