NJEA members have watched with horror this weekend as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hatemongers have taken their twisted message of hatred to the streets of Charlottesville, inciting violence and attempting to instill fear in good people. Displaying symbols and espousing rhetoric reminiscent of Nazi Germany as well as the worst of America’s racist past and present, they have compelled all decent Americans to declare their opposition to hatred and racism.
NJEA’s leaders issued the following statement, condemning the hatred of the rioters and pledging to redouble NJEA’s efforts on behalf of racial and social justice:
“Racism is wrong, period,” declared NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer today. “It’s shocking that we even need to say that in 2017, but clearly we must. The images coming out of Charlottesville this weekend show that we have so much work left to do as a society. NJEA and its members will continue to lead in that work.”
NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan expressed NJEA’s condolences to this weekend’s victims of racist violence. “We mourn with the families and loved ones of those killed and injured as a result of this repugnant riot, and we pledge to continue to fight in their memory,” Blistan said. “As educators, we know the lessons of history, and we know what happens when good people remain silent. We will speak and act boldly for the cause of racial and social justice, both as an example to our students and our communities, to help create the society we want to live in.”
NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Sean M. Spiller sounded a similar note. “If anyone still questions why educators must take a position on issues of racial and social justice, this weekend is the answer. We must fight ignorance with knowledge and fear with integrity. There is no place for neutrality when justice is on the line.”