Friday night's unrest ignited by white supremacists congregated around the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia escalated the following day when James Alex Fields Jr. plowed his gray sports car into a crowd of anti-racists demonstrators in the city's downtown area.
The attack left Heather Heyer, a 32-year old woman, dead and at least 19 others injured — many gravely — as people were hurled into the air or trampled.
Now people are asking a simple question – why?
Such a question clearly indicates that, either through omission or commission, very little if anything has been done, legally or socially, to address the country's pernicious past.
United Church of Christ Reverend Seth Wispelwey weighed in on the recent confrontations and attack which stem from three previous gatherings by white nationalists to demand Charlottesville's reverse its decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and rename parks titled after Confederate leaders, according to NBC News.
“I think in a Southern city, Southern town, white supremacy is woven into the American DNA,” Wispelwey said, adding that “there's a lot of unreconciled history that has gone unchallenged.”
Several residents reportedly countered the idea that most white nationalists and neo-Nazis came from outside Charlottesville, saying that it was part of the town's fabric.
The organizer of Saturday's right-wing rally Jason Kessler is a Charlottesville resident. "Alt-right" creator Richard Spencer went to school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Two locals, far from pointing to renaming public facilities as a means to address centuries of institutional racism and discrimination, emphasized that gentrification of Black communities have made Black people feel greatly slighted and unwanted.
Jill Williams, a local teacher who participated in the anti-fascist counter-rally, admitted that she was fearful that some teachers would prefer to simply ignore the deep-seated social ills lingering behind the violent attack on Saturday.
“We have to talk to each other, but we also have to work to address the real problems that exist in the foundation of our community,” she said, adding that saying we must love each other falls short of meaningful solutions, “there's more work to be done than that.”