Unity Rally Organized to Promote Carlisle Community Solidarity

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Unity Rally Organized to Promote Carlisle Community Solidarity

Rachael Franchini ’19, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Over 100 people from the Dickinson and greater Carlisle communities turned out for a “Unity Rally” held last Monday, “in response to the recent messages of hate and intolerance in our community,” read the Facebook page for the event.

According to Carolyn Goode ’18, engagement associate/graduate intern for the Asbell Center for Jewish Life, the statement about “recent messages of hate and intolerance” refers to the recent distribution of Ku Klux Klan flyers in Carlisle.

The gathering was held on the steps of the old courthouse at the Carlisle Square on Monday, February 18 at 6:30 p.m. The event included various speakers, including Provost and Dean of the College Neil Weissman and Mychal Herber ’19, Pincus student intern & admissions and religious life liaison for the Asbell Center for Jewish Life. Herber offered a “prayer of unity” to those gathered. The event was organized by the YWCA of Carlisle and the Second Presbyterian Church with Pastor Jeff Gibelius. Dickinson College, Penn State Dickinson Law, the Army War College. In addition, other congregations from the Carlisle area joined the efforts and provided support.  

“It was held in town so that the whole community could come together in a public space,” said Herber. “The KKK flyers affected everyone, not just college students, so the rally was supposed to be a way for both of our communities to gather in solidarity.” 

Weissman said in an email to The Dickinsonian that the unity rally was a “very meaningful event.” 

“Dickinson’s relationship to the Carlisle community has been integral since the college’s founding,” Weissman stated. “Reaffirming our relationship by joining together to embrace mutual understanding and to reject hate could not be more significant.”

“It was an uplifting and effective rally,” said Goode, “because the speakers weren’t just saying ‘hate has no place here’, but also things we can and need to do to take concrete action in fighting racism.”

Sam Halpern ’22, another student in attendance, stated that he was “hopeful and impressed” by the unity rally.

“I think the rally was important as a means for the community to come together as well as make a statement,” 

he said. “I wasn’t sure what to

 expect, but the rally definitely had a nice turn out from the Carlisle community. That said, from the people who I saw, it didn’t seem like there were that many Dickinson students.”

The gathering was reminiscent of the “unity rally” in September 2000 following Ku Klux Klan activity in Carlisle. That event was held on Biddle Field with similar goals of inclusivity and a show of community solidarity. 

“I was really inspired by the words shared by the other speakers, as well as the number of people who showed up despite the cold weather,” said Herber. “Some people even came with lawn signs and hand-made posters that had slogans on them denouncing hate. Even though the presence of the KKK in the area surrounding Dickinson is scary, especially for me as a Jewish student on this campus, I was comforted by the sheer amount of support I felt at the event.”

“I hope it sent a strong message about the kind of community Dickinsonians and Carlislians want to have and share,” stated Weissman.