Local Community Embraces Political Activism

By; Hollie Webb, 2L

Executive Editor

All over the country, a surge in activism both on the local and national levels has taken place during the past few months. People who were never previously active in the world of politics have attended marches, protests, and even have become community organizers themselves. Though perhaps to the surprise of some, our own Rockbridge County is no exception to this.

Two groups that have garnered attention recently are 50 Ways Rockbridge and CARE Rockbridge. Both have helped organize successful community events – the Women’s Rights Rally on March 3rd and the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Parade on January 14th, respectively.

Photo Courtesy of 50 Ways Facebook Group| The 50 Ways Rockbridge group hosted a screening of the ACLU’s resistance training in March.

Photo Courtesy of 50 Ways Facebook Group| The 50 Ways Rockbridge group hosted a screening of the ACLU’s resistance training in March.

50 Ways describes itself as a group of “concerned citizens from Rockbridge County, Virginia, working together to research, educate, and act on major political issues that affect all of the 50 United States, especially Virginia and our local area. Our guiding principles are inclusion and fairness.”

The organization has subcommittees for various issues, including the environment and climate change, education, healthcare, immigration, LGBTQIA support, and women’s rights. Each subgroup meets regularly in order to develop and implement a plan of action. Often, this involves meeting or writing to elected officials. Others, such as the immigration group, have worked to provide information on individual rights and legal assistance to those affected by Trump’s policies. 50 Ways also has hosted training events on topics such as organizing a protest and effective op-ed writing. Overall, the organization tries to give anyone who wants to help a way to do so through utilizing the variety of skills and experiences members bring to the table.

CARE, the Community Anti-Racism Education Initiative, has a more specific focus. CARE was created in the spring of 2016 in the midst of the controversy surrounding the annual confederate parade and distribution of KKK recruitment flyers. The group’s mission statement says that it seeks “to speak out against racism in all its forms,” and that its approach is “to provide anti-racism education opportunities to our members, schools, and the wider community.” The statement also says that “[w]hen needed, we gather publicly to hold rallies, vigils, and parades allowing our community to disavow racism, celebrate greater diversity and encourage inclusivity in our cities, county, and neighborhoods.”

Other than (somewhat ironically) being dubbed an “extremist group” by an organization called the Virginia Flaggers, CARE received mostly positive reactions to the diversity parade. They said, “We are not here to change anyone’s personal feelings about the history of the region. We’re not here to redecorate houses or rearrange lawns. What we do want, more than anything else, is to envision a Lexington that is inclusive, that has a rich and diverse history to celebrate, and continues to draw thoughtful, engaging people to its beautiful streets.”

Both groups have noted that they welcome student participation. For more information, visit https://50waysrockbridge.wordpress.com/ and http://carerockbridge.org/.


Categories: Community