Ridgefield Allies rally promotes dialogue on combatting racism

A tribute to lost black lives was set up in front of Ridgefield Community Center by the Compassionate Ridgefield organization.

A tribute to lost black lives was set up in front of Ridgefield Community Center by the Compassionate Ridgefield organization.

Byran Haeffele / Hearst Connecticut Media

In response to the death of George Floyd, the country has erupted with Black Lives Matter protests and calls for social justice across the country.

In Ridgefield, a new organization, Ridgefield Allies: What Can I Do? — What Can We Do?, has been established in an effort to combat racism within the local community. On their website, Ridgefield Allies stated, “we cannot stand silent while communities of color continue to suffer under the weight of violence, discrimination and injustice.”

On Sunday, June 7, Ridgefield Allies will be holding a virtual rally as part of the website’s launch. The rally will be held at 1 p.m. and will feature six speakers including Jennifer DeJulio, a Ridgefield High School social studies teacher; Ridgefield’s superintendent Dr. Susie Da Silva, Broadway director Mia Walker, State Sen. Will Haskell, Integrative Counseling and Wellness Group co-founder Nia Feliciano and deacon, author and public speaker Arthur Miller. Miller is also the director of the Office for Black Catholic Ministries, chaplin at Hartford’s Capital Community College and adjunct faculty member for Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford and Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center in Farmington. The rally will be livestreamed through Facebook Live and YouTube.

Mark Robinson, one of the Ridgefield Allies organizers, said the group was created to host the virtual rally in the hopes of helping others answer the questions “What can I do?” and “What can we do?” The group was also organized by Jessica Mancini, Da’Misi Adetona, Alex Harris and Bryan Perry.

“The organization is not about how to make people more woke. It’s not about how to make somebody more enlightened — that’s an individual journey that people have to take on their own — but as far as providing useful, practical information and perspective to understand what is constructive and what might not be constructive I think that’s where the organization hopes to go,” Robinson said.

Robinson said that he hopes the virtual rally will help people challenge their perspective.

“I hope that they come away challenged in the sense of feeling they need to learn more, do more, [and] erode some of the passivity or complacency even among the most well-intentioned people. No one is really doing enough, everyone could and should do more,” Robinson said. “We hope to inspire people to do more, learn more, ask more questions and be more a proactive part of the community, not just your local community but also the community.”

Robinson said that while Ridgefield Allies was created originally with the goal of hosting the rally that the group intends to do more.

“Ridgefield Allies acknowledges that there is so much more work to be done and we have an obligation to be part of that work. So our organization will have an ongoing agenda focused on responding to the question; “What can I do? What can we do?” Robinson said.

For more information, visit ridgefieldallies.org.