Sure, it was a little on the warm side for early September, but coming to a rally celebrating peace and solidarity was enough for the 25-or-so folks who chose to participate in CAIR Oklahoma’s 1st Annual Solidarity and Peace Rally today.
Led by Adam Soltani, the executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR – the Council on American-Islamic Relations – he and others, including Nathaniel Batchelder, with The Peace House; Scott J. Hamilton, executive director of the Cimarron Alliance; Dr. Mark Davies, Wimberly Professor of Social Ethics at Oklahoma City University; and Sache Primeaux-Shaw, a genealogist at the Oklahoma Black Museum and Performing Arts Center, all spoke in front of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.
As Soltani explained, the theme of this rally is “Moving Beyond Coexistence.”
Who hasn’t seen those ever-present, blue-and-white “Coexist” bumper stickers over the past decade? Sure, people know that everyone has their differences. We can live side by side, right? Well, the folks at this rally think we can take it a step further.
During a peace walk around the perimeter of the site where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood, Soltani explained to Red Dirt Report that with our recent history, where terrorism tore a hole in the heart of Oklahoma, and violent weather has taken a toll as well, we here in the Sooner State can set the bar on how to be strong and unified, looking past each other’s differences.
“I think we’re in a unique position to move beyond coexistence and what better place to do that than in Oklahoma,” Soltani said, adding, “(Let’s) come together in solidarity through peace.”
Davies spoke on the importance of working together – beyond just tolerating one another, particularly with so many people in poverty, so many Oklahoma women in prison and a planet that needs our help to heal.
“We are called to be a transformative, human community,” Davies said.
Hamilton, a long-time advocate of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, spoke eloquently about everyone truly reaching across the aisle and working for the rights of all, something, Hamilton pointedly noted, “is something our friends at 23rd and Lincoln are unable to do,” particularly when “hate-filled legislation” is passed under the guise of being an expression and “will of the people.”
“It’s not the ‘will of the people’ until all of the people have spoken,” Hamilton said.
And while we may tout ourselves as a “Big League City,” Hamilton said that truly won’t be the case until “we won’t tolerate intolerance anymore.”
Granted, today’s gathering was small, but Hamilton added that he was hopeful that the hopes and dreams of the people attending the rally would spread to the rest of Oklahoma City.
And both Batchelder, who is a white man, and Primeaux-Shaw, who is a black woman, both shared their thoughts on race in America and issues pertaining to it in their lives.
Soltani said he is hoping for a 2nd Annual Solidarity and Peace Rally next year and that even more people are able to participate and that this grows each year.
As Batchelder said, at the closing of the rally, “We’ve been challenged to be agents of change.”
Copyright 2013 Red Dirt Report