On August 11, local anti-racist activists and survivors held a candlelight vigil in downtown Charlottesville to reclaim the spaces where people were injured and traumatized two years ago. Elizabeth Shillue of Beloved Community Cville led the effort with support from Don Gathers, Jalane Schmidt, and Walt Heinecke. The event was held in honor of those who showed up on August 12, 2017, to express gratitude for their protection, pray for their continued healing, and issue a spiritual call for transformation.
“Tonight is about reclaiming the locations where folks were injured and traumatized 2 years ago. Singing and praying for our healing and transformation.
As we continue working to create the beloved community here in Charlottesville.”
-- Elizabeth Shillue
“The tragic and traumatic events that took place here on A11 and A12 perpetrated by the white supremacist have permanently stained our community and scarred our individuals. It is an act of power to have the community acknowledge the suffering and sacrifice that took place and hold it with deep care. For many, it’s a cathartic and therapeutic step towards the healing process.”
-- Don Gathers
We began by gathering at First United Methodist Church, a location that was used by many as a safe space on Aug 12, 2017, and then we proceeded by foot to 5 downtown locations where people were injured by white supremacists two years ago, as well as other spots of historical significance. At each location local leaders offered prayers, songs, and words of history to the activists, organizers, and survivors of August 12th.
Contributors included Elizabeth Shillue, Brenda Brown-Grooms (via Susan Minasian & Michael Cheuk), Sharon McCord, Dr. Jalane Schmidt, Dr. Wes Bellamy, Apostle Sarah Kelley, and Don Gathers.
Locations included: First United Methodist Church, Market Street Park, Congregation Beth Israel, Court Square, Market St parking garage, and 4th street where the car attack took place. We finished our vigil at the public art exhibit on the Violet Crown wall, where many of the activist's photos are currently on display as part of the Inside Out project.
It was a Spirit filled time of reflection and community care!
Photo credit: all pictures taken and copyrighted by Kristen Finn