On October 25, 2006, in St. Clair Park, Greensburg, Michelle Toohey, a member of the Central Westmoreland Unity Coalition (CWUC), took to heart King’s words and welcomed over 100 people from Seton Hill and the local community for CWUC’s Annual Unity Rally.

“We want to stand here together as a community to publicly declare our commitment to diversity and the dignity of every human being,” said Toohey.

In spite of the chilly weather, SHU students, Sr. Lois Sculco’s Senior Seminar class, Campus Ministry, Residence Life staff and people from the community dressed in gloves, scarves, hats and jackets attended the event.

This year’s theme was “Diversity Makes a Joyful Noise.” As the people entered the park, they received homemade percussion instruments and candles.

“We are not going to remain silent about the issues that matter to our community… we are not going to ignore the needs of our fellow human beings and neighbors…we are not going to mute our voices in our hearts, but we are going to raise a joyful noise so that even Dr. King can hear us,” said Toohey.

At the rally, community representatives from the Blackburn Center, Westmoreland County Food Bank, Congregation Emanu-el Israel, Westmoreland County Juvenile Services, Welcome Home Shelter, Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), ParentWise, and the Greensburg/Jeannette NAACP, spoke about issues, such as sexual domestic violence, hunger, anti-Semitism, homelessness, and discrimination due to sexual orientation or racial identity.

Jingles, rattles, whistles and whooping were heard throughout the night as Bonnie Harr led the community in a drum circle. Harr said that the drum circle was a “powerful symbol across all cultures at all times,” which reminds people of their individual uniqueness and commonalities.

Diana Geleskie, a student in Sr. Lois Sculco’s Senior Seminar class, said that the rally was a “fun” and “cool” experience. “It’s one thing to talk about it [the issues], but the drumming really helps you make the noise,” she said.

“The (rally) sent a strong message,” said freshman, A.J. LoPorto. “With all these communities representing all these people who are in need, I felt that something is actually being done and not being ignored like it usually is…there was a sense of real community.”

Article and photos by SHU student and OPI intern Michael Diezmos