Nearly 80 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the Chapel of All Faiths at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Monday evening for a candlelight vigil and Remembrance and Unity ceremony for Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. The University and the city are coping with the aftermath of a white supremacist rally that brought violence and hatred to Charlottesville.
Chancellor Donna Henry told the crowd that she wondered how she could go back to work after watching the news that unfolded in Charlottesville over the weekend.
“I have a strong faith in God, but I worried,” she said at the ceremony. “I knew Sunday that I needed to get a message out to the campus, and I struggled with that.”
She told those gathered that as she watched the violence and hatred, she remembered reading the Diary of Anne Frank as a child. She said she read the book again before she and her family visited the Frank house in Amsterdam recently. While at the house where Anne Frank hid during the Holocaust, Henry recalled how the young girl, who was eventually found and perished in the concentration camps, maintained hope in the midst of unimaginable horror.
“If a 13-year-old girl can be faced with the evils of the Holocaust and still have a positive view of the world, then that is what we all must do here,” she said.
Henry said the weekend’s events made her even more determined to elevate others, and that she would do that at UVa-Wise, at Charlottesville, and at the University of Virginia, where they are still dealing with the aftermath of the violence.
“I promise you that we will stand up to hatred,” she said. “We will stand up to anything that wants to separate us.”
Rev. Beth Tipton with the Wesley Foundation also addressed the crowd.
“We must face the hatred and violence that has taken place this weekend,” She said. “UVa-Wise is a place of tolerance and inclusiveness. Any form of discrimination, hatred or violence is intolerable.”
Marcia Mitchell, director of Student Support Services at UVa-Wise, told those attending the vigil that she was saddened, but not surprised by the events in Charlottesville. Racism is alive, but it was subtle until recently, she explained. She spoke of fear it has caused her about the realities her 18-year-old son will face as a young black man.
She urged all to stand with Charlottesville and with all who hold true the idea of unity against hatred.
The event was sponsored by the Office of Compliance & Inclusion.