Over 300 Santa Barbarans denounced white supremacy at a Sunday evening Solidarity Rally held at De la Guerra Plaza, in response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that escalated into violence the day before. Heather Heyer was killed when James Alex Field, 20, allegedly rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters, striking Heyer and leaving 19 others seriously injured.
The Santa Barbara event was organized in less than 24 hours by Indivisible S.B., in cosponsorship with The Beloved Community Isla Vista, Campus Democrats, Santa Barbara Women’s March, Santa Barbara Progressive Coalition, Just Communities, and SURJ SB (Showing Up for Racial Justice Santa Barbara).
“Woke up this morning with my mind stayed on freedom,” sang community organizers Simone Baker and Jordan Killebrew, closing the rally. The spiritual, which was reclaimed during the civil rights movement, was chosen to acknowledge that this weekend’s events were nothing new. “Our folks have been fighting for centuries and continue to do so,” reflected Baker, who is a co-facilitator of Black Lives Matter Santa Barbara. She spent Saturday morning phoning relatives in Virginia to make sure they were safe.
SURJ SB cofounder Carrie Hutchinson, who directed her speech toward fellow white people, called on Santa Barbarans to make anti-racist action a part of their daily lives. “We need to eliminate the belief that all we need to do is act right now,” she affirmed. “This is a long journey. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Baker elaborated after the rally: “This isn’t something that begins and ends with Donald Trump…. Focusing on him can make it easier for us because then we are not doing the introspective work of looking at how some folks benefit from and allow, or don’t stand up against, the continued oppression of communities of color.”