As the anniversary of a 2017 white supremacist rally in Middle Tennessee approaches, the James E. Walker Library is displaying items from the “Murfreesboro Loves” antiracism campaign and counterdemonstration it inspired.
The exhibit will remain in place through Monday, Sept. 24.
Signs, posters and other paraphernalia are exhibited on the library’s first floor in “#MurfreesboroLoves: A Community Action Against Hate” in cooperation with the Murfreesboro Loves nonprofit group and MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center.
The posters explain what happened on Oct. 28, 2017, as white supremacists demonstrated in Shelbyville, Tennessee, about 30 miles southeast of Murfreesboro. Another rally was anticipated in Murfreesboro but didn’t materialize because the supremacists changed their plans at the last minute.
Counterprotesters were on hand in both locations with signs proclaiming “Veterans Against Racism,” “Immigrants are welcome — bigots are not” and “In a world full of mishegas, be a mensch.” (The Yiddish words mean “craziness” and “honorable person,” respectively.)
Photos and copies of the counterdemonstration, which earned national attention, also are part of the exhibit.
Organizers created the “Murfreesboro Loves” initiative to counteract the rhetoric of white supremacists and neo-Nazis that began popping up around town last year in the wake of the August 2017 white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly when a demonstrator drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer was killed and 19 others were injured in that incident.
Fliers touting white supremacist and neo-Nazi beliefs appeared on campus and around Murfreesboro in October. Thanks to the minimal turnout of the hate-speech organizers, larger than expected crowds of counterprotesters, and a heavy law enforcement presence around the Murfreesboro Public Square, the Oct. 28 events in Middle Tennessee were peaceful.
The Anti-Defamation League released a study earlier this year showing that incidents of white supremacist propaganda circulated on U.S. college campuses more than tripled in 2017. The organization noted 346 such incidents on 216 campuses in 44 states and in Washington, D.C., from September 2016 to December 2017.
During fall 2017 alone, 147 episodes occurred, a 258 percent increase over the 41 propaganda instances reported in fall 2016.
The display is free and open to the public during regular library hours. For more information, contact Walker Library at 615-898-2817.
— Gina Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)