RICHMOND, Va. -- Sounds of worship echoed through Richmond's Shockoe Bottom as faith leaders from different backgrounds gathered around the Reconciliation Statue Friday morning for a first-of-its-kind event focused on love and acceptance.
The commemoration came after state lawmakers passed a bill declaring the day after Thanksgiving as “I am My brother's and sister's keeper Day" in Virginia.
The day aims to focus on building relationships and peace keeping in spite of our differences.
"I just want to say we do live in a sad and sick world. We really do,” NAACP Richmond Branch President James E. "J.J." Minor III said. “There's so much hate going on, but please know that good outweighs the bad and love conquers all."
With a spike in violent hate crimes in the Commonwealth and nationwide, area religious leaders said they are marching in the face of adversity.
"We vow earnestly to work towards justice and unity, equality and dignity, respect, acceptance, and honor to all humanity," said one faith leader.
The bill's creator, Del. Delores McQuinn organized the day to promote acceptance and mutual understanding regardless of race and ideology.
"We must be intentional in helping to bring about a greater sense of unity and love, a greater sense of expectations for people working together," McQuinn explained as the group marched from the Reconciliation Station to the Holocaust Museum.
The below House joint resolution was passed during the General Assembly session earlier this year:
WHEREAS, I am my brother and sister's keeper Day is an opportunity for all Virginians, regardless of race, gender, religion, education, political affiliation, or financial status, to come together, celebrate shared ideals, and work toward a brighter future; and
WHEREAS, on this day, Virginians should look beyond personal preferences, biases, and egos to join together in a common cause to rebuild and strengthen personal relationships, neighborhoods, and communities; and
WHEREAS, any amount of community service or contribution, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can have an incredible impact on the life of a person in pain or in need; and
WHEREAS, service can take many forms, such as helping build a home for a less fortunate family, donating to a food bank, donating old clothes, mentoring a child, volunteering at a school or church, visiting senior citizens, or starting a community project; and
WHEREAS, it is also possible to make a difference in the life of a friend, neighbor, or stranger on a more personal level by reminding them that there are people who care and there is always hope, even in the most difficult situations; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth is stronger when its citizens stand together, treat each other with kindness and decency, and work to build respect and mutual understanding; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly designate the Friday after Thanksgiving, in 2018 and in each succeeding year, as I am my brother and sister's keeper Day in Virginia; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates post the designation of this day on the General Assembly's website.