Donna Pandori

World on the Square 2009

Filed By Donna Pandori | August 07, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, Living, Media

The annual World on the Square 2009 festival is scheduled to take place in Corydon, Indiana on Saturday August 8th between 4:00 - 8:00 pm. For those you who have never heard of World on the Square, it is free and open to the public:

The purpose of the World on the Square family festival is to help give children, youth and adults an appreciation and respect for different cultures through art, music, food and education ... and to promote the peaceful resolution of social and political conflicts as an alternative to prejudice and violence. In this way, we prepare our children to live and advance in a world where their future professors, fellow students, co-workers and community neighbors will be from anywhere on the globe.

Wow what a message!

Corydon's location in the conservative southern area of Indiana seems an unusual place for a festival of this significance. Nevertheless, this annual tradition was started by a group of citizens, Community Unity, who wanted to take a stand against the Ku Klux Klan when the Klan came to protest in Corydon in September 1999.

As the story goes

Telephone interviews were conducted with Klan members Bill and Chris (who declined to provide surnames) to determine the reason their group decided to hold a rally in Corydon. According to Bill and Chris, some Corydon citizens invited them to come to help protest an "injustice" against current and former employees at the Tyson Food Plant in Corydon.

The Klan members' paraphrased version of the injustice they were fighting is as follows. Tyson Foods recently purchased Hudson Foods, which is located in Corydon. Tyson Foods immediately lowered pay rates and reduced benefits of existing employees. The employees went on strike. Tyson Foods then replaced the striking workers with Mexicans bused in from Louisville, Kentucky. After the strike was settled, a number of the striking white employees lost their jobs to the Mexicans. The Klan feels that it is a great injustice against the white American workers that they lost their jobs to foreigners who will work for minimum wages and practically no benefits. "To make matters worse, the Mexicans cannot even speak English".

The Klan claims that Tyson Foods continues to deliver two busloads of Mexicans from Louisville each day to work in the factory. They want Tyson Foods to send the Mexicans back to Louisville, rehire the white striking workers, and stop giving American jobs to foreigners.

At the time this case is being written, direct contact with Tyson Foods representatives has not yet been made but is still being pursued. Efforts to meet with Klan members proved unsuccessful. They agreed to meet in a public park in Salem at an appointed time but failed to show up.

We caution the readers that we can neither confirm nor deny the allegations made by Klan members Chris and Bill against Tyson Foods. We present these unsubstantiated allegations here only as their stated reason for the Klan holding a rally in Corydon.

Citizens of Corydon dealt with its immediate problem of the Klan rally

by promoting an alternative message of embracing diversity and fighting discrimination through community meetings and a newspaper ad encompassing a Resolution that affirmed the value and dignity of ALL people. Citizens were encouraged to sign the Resolution and allow their names to appear in the ad. Approximately 2700 names appeared in the ad as supporters of the Resolution.

The Corydon Resolution adopted in September 1999 is as follows :

"Differences between people including race, gender, age, culture, religious or political beliefs, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, and economic or social status often cause fear, discrimination, hatred, or violence.

We choose to affirm the value and dignity of ALL people, regardless of these or other differences.

We will broaden our understanding of those who are different from us, and through example show greater courtesy and respect toward all people in our speech and in our lives.

We will teach our youth to uphold the dignity of all.

We will encourage our schools and other organizations to teach the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

We will show, through our words and actions, our commitment to peacemaking whenever conflicts arise.

We will not support any group that does not respect and uphold the human rights of ALL people, and we will not attend or observe meetings or rallies of such groups."

The World on the Square festival has grown is size and attendence every year since it's inception. I've been following it for the past couple of years but have yet been able to attend. I would be interested to hear from anyone who is able to go and can share their exeperience with us at Bilerico-Indiana.

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Linda Keller Runden | August 13, 2009 2:29 PM

Thank you for your kind and accurate account of Community Unity and our World on the Square. I have been part of CU since its inception. We do many other things beyond the festival. We place speakers and books in the schools, add to the local library collection, cosponsor and financially support other multi-cultural events, send educators to conferences, and speak out when there is an injustice or misunderstanding. We received invaluable advice from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU and from the Southern Poverty Law Center in our initial response to the KKK rally. Other communities are welcome to copy our projects.