Several hundred of people gathered in the Star City on Sunday night to honor those who were hurt and killed in Charlottesville last weekend. The vigil was also an opportunity for people to call for peace and solidarity. People from all across the Roanoke Valley came together, rallying around a common thought: “There’s no place for hate in Roanoke, VA, no place whatsoever,” according to Roanoke NAACP President, Brenda Hale.
“We are one valley and we need to be talking about the things we have in common, not the things that pull us apart,” added Sen. John S. Edwards.
Other Community leaders sharing words of sorrow for the lives lost and words of hope for the future included Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea who stated “Yesterday was a dark day in this commonwealth and across the country but we are going to let our light shine and we’re going to let it shine and make sure that the citizens understand that we’re moving forward.”
Joe Harden, one of many who attended the vigil added: “I think probably my favorite part of the whole evening was when you were to hug someone that you didn’t know and just random people were hugging random people and that was phenomenal!” The message he hopes people walk away with is one he carries with him every day in a tattoo that says “ubuntu,” loosley translated, means I’ve got to take care of you and do my best to make you your best so that you can make me my best. And that we’re all in this together, doesn’t matter what the race, doesn’t matter who we are, doesn’t matter the ethnicity, that we’ve got to take care of each other,” Harden said.
The message of unity was shared in the wake of tragedy as: “Replace hate, replace discrimination, and replace bias. The only way is love. love unconditional love,” Hale said.