In the past 100 days, Westfair Communications Inc. – home of the Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals and WAG magazine – has dedicated itself to providing readers with feature stories and news articles and items that educate, enlighten and entertain, all designed to help our readers survive and thrive in the time of the coronavirus.
Now, we are confronted with another pandemic, that of racism, in the appalling act of police brutality that snuffed out the life of George Floyd. While we cover business and the luxury market, we have always done so with a social conscience, following the example of our publisher Dee DelBello, whose husband, the late New York state Lt. Gov. and Westchester County Executive Al DelBello, was a leader in the field of equality for all.
In this moment of crisis, we find solace and inspiration in the words of another leader confronting a racially charged murder, inequality, social unrest and political strife. On the night of April 4, 1968, following the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, New York Sen. and Democratic Party presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy made a campaign stop in Indianapolis. In a pre-internet age, the gathered crowd, mainly made up of African American supporters, thought it was merely part of a whistle-stop tour. It had not yet heard the news. Kennedy had been advised to skip the event, in which he would have to announce what had happened.
He chose to meet the moment, delivering a message of hope and healing. Two months and two days later – June 6 – he would be dead, another victim of an assassin’s bullet. Here is in part is what he said that night:
“I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens and people who love peace all over the world and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.
“Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings and he died because of that effort.
“In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black– considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization – black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.
“Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.
“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.
“My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: ‘In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’…”
To those of you who have taken to the streets in peaceful protest against inequality, as many did a half-century ago, we at Westfair stand in solidarity with you.
To those of you who’ve been martyred in the fight against social injustice, we will never forget you.
And to our readers we say, the struggle, the story, continues. We wish you peace and strength in this challenging time.