The Dayton Unit NAACP is planning a three-day community celebration as a mass response to the Ku Klux Klan group from Indiana that is scheduled to rally at Courthouse Square on May 25.
Derrick Foward, the local NAACP president, and the leadership of several groups gathered Friday evening at McIntosh Park in Dayton to talk about their mission.
The community celebration is to be spread over three days — Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
“One Dayton is going to come out and show America how we can come together in times where a group of individuals come from out of state and want to disturb our peace of mind,” he said.
Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m., will feature a dialogue on race relations, the focus of which will be a panel discussion aimed at understanding why people harbor hatred. The event is free, but tickets must be picked up through the Dayton Art Institute.
Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m., will feature "an afternoon of love, peace, inclusion and unity" at McIntosh Park, Foward said.
Martha Clark, state lead for a group called Organizing for Action, said Saturday’s free event will offer songs, praise dancing, spoken word, food trucks and more.
Sunday, from 2 to 4 p.m., there will be a "symbolic cleansing" of Courthouse Square, Foward said.
“We thought it was very important, that inside our community, once the hatred has roamed, has stepped its ugly head inside our community, we wanted to make certain that we took the opportunity, as a collective body of people, to sweep that hatred right out of Dayton, Ohio, sweep it right back to Indiana where it came from.”
Jo’el Jones, co-founder of a group called neighborhood over politics, said Sunday’s effort will be “a different type of celebration. To do a symbolic cleansing of the Square. Not necessarily with brooms and mops, but with words, with inspirational words.”
Jones said the “symbolic cleansing,” the finale of the planned three days of community celebration, “is to remind us that Dayton is a city of neighbors, that Dayton is a city of ethnic cultures and that we are all not just tolerating each other. That we are living together. All of us.”
The cleansing is being presented, she said, “so we can have the final word as to what Dayton is all about.”
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