On that picture-perfect, blue-sky summer day in Washington D.C., Howard Hunter's words boomed loud and clear.
“Not in our town.”
Hunter, a United Methodist minister, captivated the crowd of nearly 300,000 people at the Stand for Children Day rally in June 1996 with the story of how his hometown of Billings, Montana stood up to Neo-Nazi skinheads.
In response to repugnant acts of bigotry and racism, Billings residents stood together to protect religious and racial minorities in their community.
"Not in our town," they said.
The Billings story is particularly relevant today, and it reminds me of why I founded Stand for Children twenty years ago.
When we see a threat to children – anything that impedes their ability to get a great education or moves our nation toward hatred and intolerance – we must not back down.
It is our responsibility to stand up for schools where every student feels safe, included, and valued.
To stand up for the 750,000 young DREAMers who are contributing so much to society and who need and deserve our support.
To stand up for an education system where children succeed based on their abilities, not one that’s a pipeline to prison and poverty for children without privilege.
Now, more than ever, we need to stand together and stand up for what is right, just as those upstanding residents of Billings did and continue to do. This day of remembrance for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a good day to recommit to action.
Thank you in advance for stepping up your commitment. I am honored to stand with you.