"The power of the people is greater than the people in power." --Mayor Coulter
November 20, 2016, Affirmations hosted a march to stand against bigotry, hatred, racism, sexism, and xenophobia in Ferndale, Michigan. Over 1,200 people came to stand in support for each other, with speeches given by community members and the Mayor of Ferndale.
Affirmations is Metro-Detroit's center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and their allies. The march began at their location and marchers were lead West on 9 Mile and ended in Geary park for a rally with speakers such as Ferndale senior student, Sidnie Jackson, and the Mayor of Ferndale.
The march started with a small group of friends wanting to carry signs spreading peace and love through downtown Ferndale to signal to people who have felt threatened since the election that they are not alone and that there are still people in this country who love and support them. The event grew, originally titled Ferndale Trumps Hate as a play on the slogan Love Trumps Hate, but eventually was renamed to be the Ferndale Love March to promote inclusivity and love.
"Imagine how different it would be you were standing in this exact same spot with one sign alone. You would not make half the impact that we are making right now... Every single one of the signs are positive. It’s not just because there’s one, but because there’s many that we are making such an impact...Ladies, if you walk away with anything today I want you to remember to have candid strength when giving your opinions and to never let anyone try to shut you up because your opinion matters," Jackson said to the crowd of 1,200 at the end of the march.
The event showed solidarity for people of all races, genders, sexes, sexualities, abilities, faiths, viewpoints, socioeconomic status, and all other identifying characteristics, recognizing that these are often used to divide people. The march brought everyone together to show love for one another, their community, their country, and their world in such a divisive time.
Police officers blocked off streets to allow participants to have the safest route experience possible during the march - yet another show of solidarity and peace for the city of Ferndale and beyond.
"The turnout was incredible, and there was not a single negative incident. I’m so proud to live in Ferndale. We wanted 15 people to stand with us and got hundreds. I’m so grateful for our community, city, and police," said Allison Alexander, one the main organizers for the event. Alexander, along with Mindy Domke, Laura Hameson Rice and others, discussed their overwhelming sense of love and pride for their community.
Mayor Coulter attended and marched alongside community members. At the ending rally, he spoke to his community and beyond, saying that the values that are shared in the Ferndale community are not just Ferndale values. These values of inclusivity and diversity are Michigan values, they are American values, and they are human values.
He called upon the community to heal the divisiveness that has been exposed in our country, that "our job is to see them for what they are, and to heal them. That is what we’re called to do."
"Our message when we leave here is this, the things that unite us, are stronger than the things that divide us...We are going to hold onto these [values]. And we are going to defend [them]. For the next four years we will debate policies, and we will debate how we move our country forward. But these things we will not debate. These things we will defend with the courage and the strength of the love we show here today with each other."
The mayor left attendees with a challenge, "My challenge for you is to take the love and the strength and the courage that we have gathered today and go forth from here, and stand in your truth, stand in the values that we all believe in, and we will make this our country for all of us."
To donate to Affirmations, learn more about their mission, or find out how to get involved, click here.