Rochester Faith Community Comes Together to Support Civil Rights Leader


September 25, 2015

Contact: Kathleen Kern, Christians Witnessing for Palestine,
Corinne Sutter-Brown, Jewish Voice for Peace – Rochester,
Thomas Russell, United Church of Christ – Palestine Israel Network,

Rochester Faith Community Comes Together to Support Civil Rights Leader

Despite death threats and dis-invitation, Rev. Graylan Hagler gave powerful testimony linking Black American and Palestinian struggles

Rochester, NY (Sept 25, 2015)– Yesterday over 250 people at Rochester’s German House and the University of Rochester gathered to hear from Rev. Graylan Hagler, a longtime social and economic justice activist. Despite dis-invitation and death threats, over 250 students, community activists and members of diverse faith communities heard Rev. Hagler, an outspoken supporter of Palestinian human rights and civil rights veteran, speak to the connections between the Black American and Palestinian struggles for justice.

Rev. Hagler told the crowd “I’m standing here to lift up the dignity and rights of all people in the world!”  He went on to say “We have to stand up and tell the truth:  Black lives matter,  Palestinian lives matter, Palestine matters!  We need to demand justice!”

Following the dis-invitation of Rev. Hagler from a local seminary, local organizations Christians Witnessing for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace-Rochester hosted Reverend Hagler’s talk, “From Ferguson to Palestine: Connecting the Dots,” last night at The German House.  The Henrietta United Church of Christ also offered up space. 

Speaking on behalf of the Steering Committee of the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, Chairperson Gay Harter said “the intimidation of individuals and groups seeking justice for Palestinians is a disgrace, but it will not succeed in silencing a prophetic voice that seeks a just peace for all.”  Chairperson Harter continued, “As a civil rights leader and a champion for low wage workers, Rev. Hagler understands the relationship of racism and power that is relevant to the injustices faced by Palestinians.” 

“As a South African Jew I struggled alongside anti-apartheid activists, and I am honored to count myself as a colleague of Rev. Hagler. As he reminds us, confronting racism asks us to connect the dots between struggles,“ said Rabbi Brian Walt, of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinic Council, an anti-apartheid activist who grew up in the Jewish community in Cape Town.

Multi-faith communities and activists for social justice in Rochester will continue to learn from Palestinian and Black American struggles for justice and liberation as the  Witness Palestine Film Series begins on Sunday, with films such as the “Wanted 18” and “Al Helm: MLK in Palestine.

Photos of the event are included below. 


Christians Witnessing for Palestine ( is a Member of North American Friends of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem. As Christians Witnessing for Palestine, we seek a just peace for the people of Palestine wherever they may be. We are guided by Christian principles calling for care and compassion for the oppressed, concern for universal human rights, and respect for international law. We educate our community, advocate for public policy change, and pray for all.
Jewish Voice for Peace ( is a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 200,000 online supporters, over 60 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.
The UCC Palestine/Israel Network ( is committed to a just peace to end the conflict in Palestine/Israel. We seek to educate and motivate our churches to join in solidarity with those who are witnesses and risk takers for a just peace in Palestine and Israel.



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