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Civil Rights Leader Ruby Sales Visits Charlottesville to Discuss Race Issues

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Ruby Sales at African-American Heritage Center Ruby Sales at African-American Heritage Center
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

An African-American civil rights leader is talking about how she thinks Charlottesville can move forward after a violent summer.

Wednesday, Ruby Sales was at the African-American Heritage Center. Sales marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, as a teenager and has since dedicated her life to civil rights activism.

She says the process of healing doesn't start by looking for answers or pinpointing blame, but rather by looking within.

“We are facing what might appear to be insurmountable systemic racists. I think that we have to begin to ask ourselves, ‘what is it that I believe?’ How is it that if I say that I believe in democracy, how might i reflect that in the world?’” Sales said.

After the Unite the Right rallies swept through Charlottesville causing a wave of emotions and even some deaths, people have a lot of questions.

“How do we morally and spiritually beat back the hatred that has come to permeate this society?” Don Gathers said.

“We have got to stop chasing them from one city to the next, we have go to focus our energy on building up a national movement because although it happened in Charlottesville yesterday, it happens in Atlanta tomorrow,” Sales said.

Sales says the white supremacists and white nationalists who came to Charlottesville over the summer are going through an identity crisis.

“I think Charlottesville provided us with an optic to really look at the ways in which white supremacy ferments and circulates anger. But it also gave us an opportunity to ask a fundamental question, what is it that drives the rage of these young men?” Sales said.

On Wednesday Sales and her colleague Jacquie Lewis spoke at the Jefferson School about spirituality as a root of change.

 “Spirituality has the impetus for every big wave of change that the world has experienced. We have got to get together to make it better ... have important conversations and beautiful experiences together,” Jacqui Lewis said.

Charles Marsh, who is a professor of religious studies at UVA, led Wednesday night’s discussion with Sales. The event was hosted by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

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