September 09, 2009

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University and the Lewisburg community will join forces for the annual Unity Jam: Stop the Hate Rally on Monday, Sept. 21.

Bucknell participants will gather in front of Bertrand Library, and community participants will gather in Soldiers Park in Lewisburg at 6:30 p.m. Both groups will meet in Hufnagle Park for the rally, which begins at 7 p.m. The rally will include remarks from Lewisburg Mayor Judy Wagner and Diann Baxley and Heather Shnyder of Susquehanna Valley Women in Transition.

Sponsors include numerous community organizations including the Center for Non-violent Living, Congregation Beth El in Sunbury, CARE (Community Alliance for Respect and Equality), Heiter Community Center, Saint John's United Church of Christ, Susquehanna Valley Women in Transition and Barry Stopfel of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley as well as Beaver Memorial Church, which will serve as a rain location if needed.

A Roundtable discussion, hosted by Sunbury radio station WKOK, is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 10. It will air on Sunday, Sept. 13, and be available online at

Begun a decade ago
According to Jessica Hess, director of Multicultural Student Services at Bucknell, the rally is part of a national effort calling for people of faith and good will to act nonviolently as agents of healing in their communities, to speak up for the victims of hatred and intimidation, and to raise a united voice against hate-inspired violence. The national rallies began the year after the hate crimes and killings of James Byrd and Matthew Shepard in 1998.

"The 'Stop the Hate' title for the event was originally adopted from a national event organized after murders and other hateful acts in the late 1990s," Hess said. National religious leaders of different faiths participated in the first annual Stop the Hate: Interfaith Vigils Against Hate Violence, organized by The Interfaith Alliance and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Endorsed by 223 national and local organizations, people of faith organized vigils in more than 350 communities in more than 30 states.

"The original focus of the Lewisburg/Bucknell Stop the Hate rally was on organized hate groups," said Hess. "The 'Unity Jam' part of the title was added in 2006 in order to highlight the focus on unity and partnering as local communities.

"Our local and university communities have been especially supportive of the annual rally, with numerous student groups joining people from local churches and other organizations. We invite everyone to be part of this year's rally."

For more information, contact the Office of Multicultural Student Services at 570-577-1095 or

Contact: Division of Communications


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