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Dispelling the darkness

8/25/2017, 7:24 p.m.

The darkness of the tragic events in Charlottesville — and President Trump’s continued blessing of the racist, anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi, white supremacist elements seeking to tear apart this nation — have cast a pall over our state and country.

We have been emotionally drained by the displays of hatred and violence by these groups, now unleashed because our president has no moral compass.

For the generation of Americans black and white who believed we fought and won these battles during the civil rights struggles of the past, we say, “Welcome back to the future.” 

For the generations too young to have lived through those days, we say, “Get ready to rumble.”

We must shake off the surprise, despair and depression caused by a resurgence of the forces of bigotry and get busy. Collective action by people of conscience is the only way to block those who seek to take America back to a time of regression.

African-Americans were not surprised by the events. The ebb and flow of racial animosity and injustice wash over us daily in various ways — on the job, in our neighborhoods, in our interactions with police, schools and government officials. We understood that even with the historic 2008 election of a black man as president, Barack Obama, this was no post-racial America.

Groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which track hate groups around the nation, warned about the rise in the formerly clandestine activities of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and now the alt-right through President Obama’s eight years in office.

President Trump has made it OK to hate again — and openly.

So, after the violence, murder and injury of the innocent in Charlottesville, we are left with an America that is shamed by the ugliness it sees in itself. There is no denying the existence of homegrown white terrorists who will kill, destroy and hurt in order to subjugate black people, Jews, gays, Muslims, immigrants and others.

The situation demands that each of us become a post of resistance — using our voice, our vote and our actions to say “No” to those who want to dismantle the progress of our nation.

We are heartened that citizens and public officials in cities across the nation now espouse the viewpoint long advocated by the Free Press of removal of the symbols of the Confederacy that taint our public spaces. Like the statues on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, these symbols largely were erected during Jim Crow as reminders of white supremacy and black oppression. And they continue to be used for that purpose by hate groups. They must go.

We also applaud Congressman A. Donald McEachin for joining 88 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives in seeking to censure President Trump.

The president, a KKK sympathizer who grew up in a household that endorsed the Klan and its activities in New York, needs to be put into check. 

Congress must press for action against domestic terror groups, including holding hearings and pushing for bona fide investigations and prosecutions of such individuals by the U.S. Justice Department.