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2 Charlottesville, Va., residents remember the 2017 'Unite the Right' rally

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps. Five years ago today, hundreds of white nationalists converged on Charlottesville, Va., to protest the removal of a Confederate monument. The Unite the Right rally turned deadly when a car rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters. One person was killed. A dozen others were injured. Fifty-two-year-old Lisa Woolfork was in that crowd. She came to StoryCorps to remember that day with her friend and fellow Charlottesville resident Kendall King-Sellars.

LISA WOOLFORK: My grandmother, who was still alive in 2017, was born in 1913, the same year that Harriet Tubman died. And it really galled me - I would have to tell my grandmother that I was prepping to go down to a Klan rally to resist the Klan. And I knew how dangerous all of this was. But it felt to me important as a mother to try to be out here now so that my children won't have to be out here later.

KENDALL KING-SELLARS: Right.

WOOLFORK: You know, up to that point, I had been sewing with a group of older white ladies where, no matter how old I was, I was always the youngest, and I wasn't even young. When my father died unexpectedly, they made me a quilt. When my babies were born, they made me a quilt. But after the attacks, someone said to me, well, Lisa, it's been told that Charlottesville is not to be discussed. So many people wanted to just ignore it, as if ignoring it was the solution. And it's only a solution because it wasn't a problem for them. About three or four days later, I get an envelope in the mail, and it is my check that I have paid for the next gathering. And I really felt like I'm no longer welcome. I was so hurt.

KING-SELLARS: Of course.

WOOLFORK: But I think that there's also a lot of bright spots because we got so many no's about trying to get rid of the statues, and those statues are gone. But we are still here.

KING-SELLARS: Yeah.

WOOLFORK: And that counts for a lot.

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FADEL: That's Lisa Woolfork with Kendall King-Sellars for StoryCorps in Charlottesville, Va. Lisa is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia and now runs her own sewing group, Black Women Stitch. Their conversation has been archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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