Elon panelists share their experiences at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville
Several from the Elon community who protested at the rally or covered it for the media gathered in Whitley Auditorium on Sept. 5 to discuss their experiences.
Elon's Whitley Auditorium was packed on Tuesday, Sept. 5, with students, faculty, and staff who wanted to hear the personal stories by four members of the Elon community who were present in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 for the Unite the Right rally that turned violent.
The Reflections on Charlottesville event held by the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society and the Council on Civic Engagement, hosted a panel discussion in order to help students develop an informed perspective about the white nationalist protests and counter-demonstrations by people who were actually there.
The panelists came from different sectors of the Elon community, including Jeffrey Pugh, the Maude Sharpe Powell Professor of Religious Studies and a resident of Charlottesville. Pugh, a longtime scholar of the life and work of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who conspired against the Nazi regime and was executed for it, said that his entire scholarly career told him one thing: “When the Nazis come to your town, you’ve got to show up!” An ordained United Methodist minister, Pugh participated in the counterprotests organized by Charlottesville clergy.
Joining Pugh on the panel was Jasmine Turner '15, who works as a reporter for NBC12 in Richmond, Virginia. She went to Charlottesville to cover the Unite the Right rally and spoke of the strong feelings that being a woman of color on professional assignment in that setting generated.
Although their academic backgrounds and their reasons for being there were different, one message of all panelists was the same — we need to see who these people are and we need to stand up against them for ourselves and on behalf of those who are not able to do so.
Each panelist spoke about their specific experience with previous protests and with the counterprotest in Charlottesville. Their different perspectives kept the audience engaged, and the curiosity of students was evident in the questions they submitted to the panel.
The Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society would like to thank the panelists and everyone who came to the event for making it an open space to share stories and be heard.