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Unity Rally Stresses Need for Racial Harmony, Understanding

Aug. 20, 2005 – The Rev. Lillette George no doubt echoed the thoughts of many people at Saturday's St. John Unity Rally when she urged them to make a start toward racial harmony.
"We've got to stand up as a voice," she said to the two dozen people who attended the ceremony in Cruz Bay Park.
George leads the congregations at Emmaus and Bethany Moravian Churches.
Sen. Craig Barshinger organized the rally to provide community support for Esther and Jerry Frett.
The Fretts, who attended the rally, woke up one morning in June to find that someone had written racial epithets on their car parked at their East End home.
"I appreciate the support," Esther Frett said.
However, she noted that the march through Cruz Bay to the town's park for the ceremony would have been more effective if the participants carried banners.
Barshinger said he organized the rally to show the Fretts that they weren't alone. "So these two people feel the circle of arms around them," he said.
The Rev. Charles Crespo, who shepherds the flock at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, served as the master of ceremonies. With a Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage, he brought out his stash of well-used jokes to hammer home the point about racial unity.
In one lengthy one involving two Cuban men on their way home from market and two pigs of different colors, he talked of the problem in trying to tell the pigs apart. As it turned out, one pig was black and one was white. He told those in the audience that it didn't matter if they were black or white.
"If we keep it simple, we won't see black and white," he said.
Alan Smith, who serves as chairman of the St. John Baha'i Spiritual Assembly, spoke about the race-related changes he's seen in his nearly 30 years on the island.
Smith, who is black and Michigan-born, and his wife, Magda, white and born in Germany, moved here in 1976 with their son, Derek.
Smith said that when Derek first took the school ferry to St. Thomas, black children, white children and those like Derek of mixed race sat together. Over the years, black children began to sit on one side of the boat and white children on the other.
"Now, there's a complete and total divide," he said, noting that this example reflects the changes that have come to St. John.
Several members of the island's clergy spoke, but U.S. Attorney Anthony Jenkins had what may have been the most moving words.
He told of growing up in "abject poverty" in Georgia with parents who were illiterate.
"But my simple-minded parents instilled in me that all people are worthy of respect," he said.
He added that when people engage in racial slurs, they lose the moral high ground.
Jenkins and other speakers urged those in the audience to acknowledge their differences. "But what makes us one people are the things we have in common," he said.
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