More than a hundred DeKalb-area residents gathered Thursday night at the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway. Some held lanterns, while others carried signs with a call to action. One participant wrapped herself with an American flag.
The group Beloved Community held the candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the recent Charlottesville attack, and also to strengthen community ties in the fight against racism and hate crimes.
Participants joined in singing "We Shall Overcome" as part of the event's theme: "Hate has no home here."
Speakers discussed topics like connecting neighbors who are strangers and speaking up to help tackle social issues like racism.
Laura Vazquez, with the Beloved Community, said embracing different people in the community is key to making progress.
"So, people are really feeling some distance from one another that needs to be bridged," she said. "It's my hope that we're doing that by getting at these random events saying, "Hey, we're good. We still love each other. It's okay.'"
DeKalb resident Nehad Orsho emigrated from Syria five years ago and joined other northern Illinois residents at the "peace corner." He said he came to the United States because of too much violence in his native country, but the community took him under its wing.
"Really, I feel very at home here," Orsho chuckles. "I don't know how I'm going back [to visit]. The people here supported me in many, many places."
The Beloved Community is planning a community potluck for next month.