More than a dozen speakers took the steps at Little Rock AME Zion Church Monday to renounce racism and criticize the weekend’s white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Many of the leaders criticized President Donald Trump, who initially blamed all sides, not just the white supremacists.

“The president of the United States has made clear that under his leadership, he will not lead in condemning the white nationalist movement,” Sen. Joel Ford told the gathering. “The issue is not about black and white. The issue is about right and wrong.”

Ford was joined on the steps of the historic church by several other elected leaders, including Mayor Jennifer Roberts, whom he faces in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary. But unlike Ford, City Council member Claire Fallon, Mecklenburg Commissioner Pat Cotham and two council candidates, Roberts was not invited to speak.

Organized by the local branch of the NAACP, the hour-long news conference featured remarks by Christian clergy, a Muslim imam and a local rabbi. They all encouraged people to speak out against hatred.


“We Jews know the cost of silence,” said Rabbi Asher Knight of Temple Beth-El.

Former state Sen. Malcolm Graham spoke about losing his sister to racism. Cynthia Hurd was among the nine members of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Zion Church killed in June 2015. Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, was convicted of the murders.

“I know the pain of racism,” Graham said.