Dozens show for ‘Unity Rally’ in Pittsford, annual event against racism


PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — A rainy Sunday afternoon did not stop dozens of Pittsford residents from coming out and rallying against racism.

The rally is an annual event, started by the organization PittsFORWARD a year ago. This year, it comes as several alleged racism-involved events were brought to light in the district this past week.

On Friday, Sept. 1, parents told News 8 players on the Pittsford Mendon boys and girls team made racist comments and slurs towards black students from Greece Arcadia.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is also investigating not one, but multiple racist events in the district among students. One involves a student holding an airsoft gun and making threats using a racial slur.

Activists, local parents, and students of Pittsford say there is no place for racism in their community.

Muhammad Mbowe is a student at Pittsford Mendon who shared his story on Sunday.

“I have been called the n-word and as a Muslim, I have been told to go blow up a building,” Mbowe said.

According to Mbowe, the previous few weeks for Pittsford students have been difficult to deal with.

“I’ve never feared for my life until someone said I’m going to kill n-words with a gun that’s something I have never felt before,” Mbowe said.

Activists, town and village officials, and the superintendent, all asking one question: How do we get it to stop?

Kevin Beckford was among the speakers at the podium, a council member and parent in the town of Pittsford. Beckford has a 16-year-old girl.

He says part of the solution is hiring more teachers of color.

“Why? Because for kids from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade are reminded every day in some ways that we don’t exist we’re not relevant,” Beckford said. He says they’re working on getting an equity committee on board to start implementing more ideas and change.

Students like Grace Xia, came out with the goal of getting everyone’s attention. She says as a person of color, her stories are often minimized by others.

“There was this guy told me I’m not American, I don’t have a quote ‘American last name,’ I don’t share the same culture as him,” said Xia.

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