There was a different kind of beauty in the summer night last night in the Adirondack Mountain village of Saranac Lake. It was more than the river, the July evening or the grassy park. It was a beauty that came with care, and with candles.
The Saranac Lake Teachers Association, together with the social justice organization John Brown Lives, hosted a peace event as part of the “Saranac Lake Artwalk” in the downtown area of the mountain village. The public event was open to anyone who wanted to add thoughts of peace, and to support the “Hate Won’t Win” campaign in honor of the nine churchgoers killed recently in racially-motived murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Many people signed a large banner in support of “Hate Won’t Win” at a table set up by the teachers association.
David Goodman (pictured above at center), director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation for social justice and voting activism, sat in Riverside Park and spoke to people after the candlelight walk. He talked about the importance of doing something transformative, to speak up and take action for justice.
“It was really part teach-in, part vigil,” said Don Carlisto, co-president of the Saranac Lake TA along with Melissa DeVit.
Goodman is the brother of Andrew Goodman, slain civil rights activist who was killed while volunteering in Mississippi to help black people get registered to vote. The Goodman family lived every summer in nearby Tupper Lake, where last year a mountain regularly climbed by the boys when they were younger was dedicated Goodman Mountain in honor of Andrew.
The vigil brought out students, parents and teachers, including Gemini Randolph and Martha Swan, members of the Newcomb TA who traveled to the event. Swan is director of John Brown Lives. The event was also supported by Adirondack Voters for Change, a non-partisan, issue-based advocacy organization.
The Artwalk is a regular series on the third Thursday of the month, promoting local artists and inviting people to visit galleries and support small business.
Saranac Lake teacher Maria DeAngelo — who walked from Saranac Lake to Albany in April to protest harms against education — is a working artist, along with her husband, Matt. They have a gallery and are regulars at the Artwalk. She suggested that this month’s event be tied into “Hate Won’t Win,” Carlisto said.
“She’s relentlessly optimistic and relentlessly hopeful,” he said.
Members of the Saranac Lake TA asked people to sign the banner with messages of condolences for victims families, and messages of support for the Hate Won’t Win campaign. At the end of Artwalk, the group marched silently to Riverside Park where they held a candlelight vigil. The names of the nine people murdered in the Charleston church were read out loud.
“The event was in solidarity with the victims. We hope to send the message that hate certainly won’t win in our community and it won’t win nationally,” Carlisto said.