Love is caring, Woullard Lett told a group gathered this morning in Manchester at the Love Your Neighbor Valentine’s Day Breakfast, held at the Puritan Backroom. “Caring requires doing something,” he emphasized, in other words: action. And action has to be at the institutional and personal levels, he said.
Manchester’s Love Your Neighbor project was inspired by one with the same name a few miles north in Concord. The capital city’s project was created by New American Africans as a community response to racist graffiti scrawled on the homes of African refugee families.
Manchester hasn’t faced that exact problem, but the state’s biggest city is home to immigrants and refugees from all over the world and the hand of welcome has not been universally extended.
The Manchester group got started a few months back. Today’s breakfast was their second public event.
In addition to Woullard Lett, other speakers were Geraldine “Mama G” Karega, Andrew Smith of the US Department of Justice, and Susan Yen.
Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee presented Outstanding Neighbor Awards to Mick and Marcia Lorang, Tika Acharya, and Isabelle Valmont. Mayor Ted Gatsas and Bud Fitch from the office of US Senator Kelly Ayotte were there, as well, to add their commendations to the excellent community volunteers.
My favorite moment was when Simfora Bangasimbo, one of the Spark the Dream members, said it’s not enough to love your neighbor. “You have to love your neighbor’s neighbor’s neighbor.” When love gets extended beyond the people closest to us, then we’re talking about the institutional changes Woullard Lett called for.