It’s been more than five days since white supremacists paraded through Charlottesville, Va., wielding torches and chanting Nazi phrases. Those who turned up to protest throughout the weekend are still dissecting the violent display of racism—a display that, for Cornel West, began Friday night at a church service in Charlottesville.

“It was a beautiful moment—all colors, all religious traditions, Muslims, Jews, Christians, black, white, red, indigenous peoples,” West describes the service in an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!. “But what happened was, they held us hostage in the church. We could not leave after the service, because the torch march threatening the people who were there.”

The Rev. Traci Blackmon who led the service and Black Lives Matter activist Jalane Schmidt who spoke there also participate in the interview. They recount the bravery of the protesters and share their experience protesting the neo-Nazi movement. They also discuss American history and the need to topple Confederacy statues.

“These statues in place for the benefit of white folks,” Schmidt says. “I, as an African American, and other people of color and other vulnerable populations, we do not need a daily reminder of our oppression.”

Goodman wraps up the interview by bringing up President Trump’s weak condemnation of the events in Charlottesville and asking about the future of progressive activism in the face of regressive politics.

“We will continue to resist this platform of hatred, this platform of isolation, this platform of othering people,” Blackmon says.

“I think that this is a massive awakening. We’ve already seen an awakening taking place in the last few years. It will intensify,” West says. “We’ve seen marvelous demonstrations in a variety of different cities in the country, in the empire. We see young people seeing … white supremacist young people, saying, ‘That’s my generation. I have got to be on the right side. I’ve got to be on the moral and just side.'”

Watch the interviews, in two parts, in the player above. Find transcripts of Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

–Posted by Emma Niles.

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