The marches on Lexington: peace prevails

Isabel Chiodo

The events that transpired over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in Lexington attracted many different kinds of people. The weekend’s festivities included a parade in honor of Lee-Jackson Day, a holiday celebrated in Virginia that commemorates the birthdays of two men of the Confederacy, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. People wearing battle attire and Confederate symbols marched through the streets of Lexington to celebrate the Confederate leaders.

This year, in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville last August, the leaders of the parade made it clear to the community that any person hoping to use the march as a pro-racism event were not welcome. Luckily, the three hundred attendees marched peacefully—a huge relief to the City of Lexington.

The weekend was also filled with events celebrating a person who was the clear opposite of those two aforementioned men: Martin Luther King, Jr. On Jan. 15, the Community Anti-Racism Effort, better known as CARE, organized a peaceful march to celebrate the inspirational life of the civil rights leader.

The approximately 800 marchers held signs encouraging equality, peace and hope with quotes like “hate is too great a burden to bear” and “only in the darkness can you see the stars.” The parade also included a performance by Washington and Lee’s a capella group, General Admission.

Cindy Kim, ‘21, was especially enthused by the crowd.

“You could feel the strong bond between everyone that was in the parade,” she said. “I even got to see many of my professors marching and chanting for peace in the community, which was cool.”

Many people say the division in the United States is hurting the country, but the small town of Lexington proved that wrong this weekend. The combination of these two events is a very odd one but also a very American one.

While one celebrates modern ideas and movements, the other celebrates centuries-old southern traditions. It is no secret that the two groups celebrated people who have almost nothing in common.

One celebrated the life of an African-American that peacefully fought for equal rights, while the other celebrated the lives of men who fought for states’ rights, including the right to enslave people based on race.

This is not to say that everyone who celebrates Lee-Jackson Day is racist. People here have family traditions and perspectives on the Confederacy that those outside the South would not understand. These differing backgrounds and ideas are what make America so unique. The two groups allowed each other to have the time and space to participate in their marches in peace, which is something unheard of in today’s news.

The national news networks had nothing to say about this weekend in Lexington, which is sad. If there had been some sort of riot or violence, people all around the country would have known. But there was no excitement, and therefore it seems as though nobody cares.

That said, this weekend was a positive sign for America’s future, and it provided a lot of hope. We will never live in a world where everyone agrees with each other, but if we are able to peacefully have our differences, then we are off to a great start in 2018.