Charlottesville community commemorating fifth anniversary, and ongoing impact of August 12

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:14 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville community is finding ways to mark the somber anniversary of August 12, 2017.

“It’s important for the community to come together and to remember, you know, the events from our past, and especially those events that were so traumatic,” UVA professor and community activist Jalane Schmidt said.

The No Unity Without Justice: Student and Community Organizing During the 2017 Summer of Hate at the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library was set up by students who lived in Charlottesville during the Unite the Right rally.

“The struggle isn’t over, and so the point of this exhibit, I think, and I don’t want to kind of speak for the curators, but the point of the exhibit is to have truth telling by having physical objects,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt helped students put the exhibit together, as she also witnessed the traumatic rallies in 2017. She says it’s important to note it was not just August 12, but the events before and after, too.

“We’re going to hold panel discussions and invite classrooms to come, you know, classes to come in and visit the exhibits so that new students can learn about prior student activism,” Schmidt said. “There are a lot of different commemorative activities that are going on.”

The exhibit at the University is a fraction of what the Charlottesville community is doing to come together to remember what happened and pay respect to those impacted.

Eze Amos also has an exhibit reflecting what he witnessed during and after the alt-right rally on the Downtown Mall. He has photos on the mall, and also in the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center for the public to view.

Friday, August 12 there will be a “Unite the Light” Walking Vigil of Remembrance at 4:30 at First Baptist Church on West Main street and a “Unite the Light” Interfaith Service at 7:30 pm at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church.

Throughout the weekend on August 12, 13, 14 at IX Park will be the 2nd Annual “Soul of Cville” festival. It’s a “celebration of Black excellence in Central Virginia.” The event is free. The festival programming will include live music, performances, a fashion show and more all from local Black-owned businesses.

While this will be the fifth anniversary, Schmidt says August 12 is something we should constantly reflect on.

“Remembering why it is that we’re still faced with challenges, ongoing challenges of white supremacy, and what it takes to go forward together to redress some of that,” Schmidt said.

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