The Educational Alliance yesterday kicked off a new engagement project called the, “We the People Initiative.” Leaders of the Lower East Side social services organization were joined in the lobby of the Manny Cantor Center on East Broadway by what a press release described as, “a cross-section of many of the groups targeted by a rise in hate crimes following the 2016 presidential election.”
The project includes a mural featuring the first words of the Declaration of Independence in five languages. Guests were asked to sign their names on the mural. The Educational Alliance is planning a series of events around its new initiative. There will be a “Know Your Rights Forum” Wednesday, Jan. 25, covering topics such as immigration fraud and immigrant rights.
In opening remarks yesterday, Educational Alliance President & CEO Alan van Capelle highlighted the organization’s historic commitment to inclusiveness and acceptable of all cultures. Here’s part of what he had to say:
It is in these buildings that good people came together, speaking many different languages, all with one goal, to become good Americans, to practice citizenship, to be neighbors to one another and to understand that this is the greatest city in the greatest country the world has ever known. Since November, there have been some people who have been walking around this neighborhood, a neighborhood where many of us live and work and learn, and they have a different vision of New York. They believe they could see a woman in hijab and go up to her and say Islamophobic things to her. They believe they can hear a teacher in a coffee shop speak Farsi to her parents and tell her to go home. They believe they could see two young men holding hands down East Broadway and call them derogatory names. They believe they could take a swastika and plaster it to a wall to a building in this city and that no one would say anything. This is our response to nobody saying anything… Today regardless of what language you were born speaking, no matter what language you want to teach your children in your home, no matter what language you come in speaking into this building, all of us together commit to each other that we are the people, that we have each others’ back.
The mural will remain in the lobby of the Educational Alliance, 197 East Broadway, for the next two months.