Monday, November 05, 2001

Rally against racism

Group hopes to further racial peace

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        More than 200 people of different religions and races came together Sunday at Bicentennial Commons downtown to pray and rally for an end to racial discord in Cincinnati.

Complete coverage in our special section.
        Offering prayers, holding hands and singing songs, the group acted in unison to decry the bigotry and intolerance that have made Cincinnati such a racial tinderbox.

Grass-roots effort
               It was hosted by a grassroots group called People Praying for Cincinnati, made up by members of diverse religious congregations from Avondale to Hyde Park, and including the Cincinnati Islamic Center.

        David Klingshirn, one of the organizers of Sunday's gathering, said the difference between this event and others aimed at addressing racial woes since the April riots is that "you can't fool God.”

        "If we pray together, you're not going to pull the wool over God's eyes because he knows what's in your heart,” Mr. Klingshirn said.

        Spiritual, determined and serene, Barbara Smitherman of North Avondale said she agreed to help organize the event because there are still too many people in Cincinnati who do not subscribe to the message of community unity and tolerance.

        “We have to feel good about coming together, and that's what these prayer meetings are for,” Mrs. Smitherman said. “Things will not change in Cincinnati until we feel comfortable coming together.”

        Hyde Park resident Lorraine Downing said the important thing is what people do after the rally: “Charity begins at home, and we need to start right here, in our homes.”

"All Cincinnatians'
               While acknowledging the pain Cincinnatians have endured because of the racial climate in the city, Jane Conrad of Kenwood warned people of all races and backgrounds not to condemn all whites, for example, for the actions of a few bigots.

        “I think prayer is the basis of any type of relationship, and we need to come together because we're all Cincinnatians, we're all Americans,” she said.


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