Motivated by appearance of hateful graffiti in Swarthmore and a rising tide of intolerance in public discourse, Kabeera Weiissman of Swarthmore decided to do something positive to counter the negativity abroad in the land. As she conferred with friends in town, in person and via social media, momentum gathered to express messages of community and tolerance. Others of like mind in Media, Springfield and Swarthmore contributed ideas and energy, and the Swarthmore Solidarity March was conceived. Just weeks later, it was delivered, on a lovely afternoon last Sunday.
Hundreds of Swarthmoreans and neighbors joined hands, joined voices, and joined together in a commitment to support one another across differences of faith, place and culture. Children, parents and others assembled in the new amphitheater at Swarthmore’s Central Park, creating posters and banners on themes of unity. Community and faith leaders who spoke (and sang) included Rev. Joyce Tompkins of Trinity Episcopal Church and Swarthmore College’s Interfaith Center; Rabbi Kelilah Miller of Congregation Ohev Shalom; Rev. Sukja Bang, Swarthmore United Methodist Church; Principal Dr. Angela Tuck of Swarthmore-Rutledge School; Rev. William L. B. Gray, Sr. of Wesley A.M.E. Church; and Lois Sellers of Swarthmore Friends Meeting.
Behind a banner reading “Yes to Civil Rights, No to Hate,” the throng proceeded from the amphitheater to Umoja Park, where marchers warmed up by sharing hot cocoa donated by the Swarthmore Co-op. “It was a great day,” Weissman said. “There was a lot of love and positive energy.”