Following a peace demonstration on the steps of Hempstead Village Hall on Aug. 22, West Hempstead Rabbi Art Vernon spoke of the racially-charged events in Charlottesville and categorized them as a watershed moment in American history. “No one knew what the impact of Charlottesville was going to be,” said Vernon, who is co-chair of the Black Jewish Coalition for Justice. “When a moment like that occurs, it's an opportunity to say we have to do something.”
Vernon, together with his coalition’s co-chair, Rev. Dr. William A. Watson, organized the Hempstead village peace rally, attended by several dozen political leaders, pastors, rabbis, non-profit leaders and county residents.
The demonstration was one of several held in Nassau County over the past few days in response to Charlottesville. Other local rallies included one in West Hempstead by the International Human Rights Commission, one in Rockville Centre organized by Raising Voices USA, and one in Glen Cove at the First Baptist Church.
Rally speakers included Hempstead Mayor Don Ryan, Senior Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Reginald Pope of the National Action Network and a half dozen others.
“The Black Jewish Coalition for Justice are symbolic of two of the biggest targets of hatred ever in the history of the United States,” said Vernon, adding that his inspiration to start the coalition stemmed from Dr. Martin Luther King and the image of him flanked by two rabbis in 1963 at the March on Washington.