To the editor:

Earlier today, June 7, I happened across a demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that was held on the lawn of the National Bank of Coxsackie. I have lived in and around the area for most of my life, and cannot recall seeing anything like it in the nearly 40 years that I have lived here.

To the young people who participated, for whatever this might be worth, I could not be more proud of you, or the stand you took today. I know how things can be here, so it must not have been easy. The definition of bravery is “strength in the face of pain or grief.” With a thousand more like you, we might be OK.

As the rally was beginning to break up, I had the good fortune to speak with three young women who were walking home. I did my best to explain to them that, as the father of three children who happen to be biracial, how it made me feel that they had taken this stand on behalf of people like my kids.

I asked them if they knew that, before there was a United States of America, Coxsackie was a haven for freedmen. They told me that they did not, because no one had told them. I humbly suggest that we resolve to teach our own history.

As we parted, I told them that, though there are some who may have wished not to see them, they were seen, and that they should never back down, because history is on their side, and suggested that they go make more history.

Then we bumped elbows. It ruled. Best meeting ever.

Over the last few years, attending school functions or picking the kids at the end of the day, it has become impossible not to notice that our community has become far more diverse to a degree that was unimaginable to me 30 years ago.

When I graduated from C-A in 1994, I walked with 120 fellow seniors. A seemingly equal number today said, as publicly as possible, that standing up for our growing diversity is the most important thing they could have done on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in early June.

That matters. Those who choose to stay here and make a life are our future leaders, and they should know that they have allies close at hand.

Shawn Charniga


Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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