As the first anniversary of the Aug. 11 and 12 white supremacist rally approaches, several Charlottesville organizations are holding events to bring healing to the community.
As part of the monthly art event First Fridays, Firefly Restaurant and Arcade will be holding an opening reception for self-taught, local artist Christopher Kelly on Aug. 3 from 4 to 9 p.m.
Kelly, a clinical art therapist at a special needs school, created the works for his show, “Finds and Designs,” by incorporating materials from his students’ artwork.
A portion of the proceeds from Kelly’s show will benefit the Heather Heyer Foundation, a nonprofit created in honor of Heather Heyer, who was killed during last year’s rally. Eight percent of all food and beverage sales at Firefly on the night of the show will also be donated to the foundation.
“It’s always a good thing when a community comes together to support the arts,” said Firefly owner Melissa Meece. “To be able to make those connections and have those conversations about art [is] really important.”
“Having the fundraiser for the Heather Heyer Foundation – that’s going to touch a lot of people’s hearts,” Meece continued. “[We hope] that a lot of people… come out and show their support for that foundation.”
Kelly’s work will be on display and for sale at Firefly until the end of September. The proceeds from the sales will continue to benefit the foundation.
On Aug. 11, local nonprofit The Sum will be holding a free workshop titled “Internal Tools for Nonviolent Action.”
The workshop, held at The Sum from 9 to 5 p.m., will help participants prepare themselves to take nonviolent action. It will also provide them with the tools to communicate effectively across races and other differences.
Though the workshop is free, The Sum will accept donations. The Sum requests that all participants register in advance on www.thesum.org, by calling 434-260-9377, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Aug. 12, the organizers of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Choir will hold the C’Ville Sing Out at the IX Art Park from 4 to 6 p.m.
“We really want take back the date August 12,” said co-organizer Nico Scopelliti. “Charlottesville is a beautiful, friendly and diverse city. We want people to know that. We want to show the world what we are really about – harmony, inclusivity and brotherhood among all races and beliefs.”
The sing-out is open to the entire Charlottesville community. No singing experience is necessary to participate.
“We want to provide a positive, joyful event,” Scopelliti said. “It is intended to be the opposite of any rally motivated by divisive ideologies that may take place that weekend.”
Over 350 people have already registered to sing. Due to the level of interest the event has received from local organizations, organizers anticipate hundreds of people attending.
Singers will meet at 2 p.m. at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, where they will receive sheet music and learn four to five songs, including “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, “Glory” by John Legend and “Charlottesville” by Evelyn Carter, a native of Charlottesville. A band and several soloists will accompany the singers on stage.
Doors for the rehearsal will open at 12:30 p.m., while additional registrations for singers not yet signed up will begin at 1 p.m. Organizers request that participants arrive early. After the rehearsal concludes, singers will march together to IX Art Park, located down the street from the church. Shuttles will be available for participants unable to walk.
Those who do not wish to sing should arrive at the park at 4 p.m.
Also on Aug. 12, the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP will hold a “Time for Reflections and Healing” forum at Zion Union Baptist Church from 4 to 6 p.m.
The NAACP has invited several state and local figures to attend the forum, including Governor Ralph Northam, Mayor Nikuyah Walker, University of Virginia President Jim Ryan, and Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother.
Throughout the week before Aug. 12, there will be a variety of religious services.
From Aug. 6 to 10, the Charlottesville Clergy Collective will lead 30-minute services at 6 a.m. and noon at Market Street Park, formerly Emancipation Park.
The Collective will also hold an interfaith worship service, “Making Our Way Together,” at The Haven on Aug. 9 from 7 to 8 p.m. The service will include leaders from various religious communities and will feature readings, singing, and prayers.
On Aug. 10, there will be a Shabbat service at 6:15 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel. Organizers encourage attendees to bring fruit, cheese, vegetables or a dessert – but not meat products – to share for the reception.
The week concludes with a worship service on Aug. 12, “Better Together: Lament, Repent, Rejoice,” at the Sprint Pavilion from 6 to 8 p.m. The service, which is sponsored by a coalition of churches and pastors, will include gospel music, readings, and prayer.
For further information about Aug. 11 and 12 anniversary events, visit www.charlottesville.org/resillientcville.