WILKES-BARRE — Bringing people together.
That was a common refrain at the 20th annual Diversity People’s Picnic held by the local NAACP chapter at Kirby Park on Saturday.
“We need more people together. There’s too much hate in the world,” said Nancy Albert, of Wyoming.
Besides free food and children’s activities, the event featured several speakers, including state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre.
“There are some people saying things trying to split us up,” said Pashinski. “We cannot let that happen. Too many people have fought, worked, and died so that we can live by the rule of law, so that the words ‘justice for all’ means ‘justice for all’ not just the privileged.”
Sue Henry also attended the picnic. The former radio host recently announced she is running as a Republican to challenge Pashinski for his House seat.
Meanwhile, local basketball standout Isiah Walker advertised the free activities at his new S&S Mind Over Matter complex in Plains Township, including bingo and sports. Walker emphasized the importance of the public getting involved in critical issues.
“There’s a lot of different things that are happening in our community, and a lot of us are blinking,” said Walker. “I’m not saying we are closing our eyes to it, but a lot of things are starting to happen in the Wilkes-Barre school district.”
Other speakers included Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George and Luzerne County Community College President Thomas Leary.
Maureen Maher-Gray, executive director of the NEPA Youth Shelter, spoke about plans for collaborating with the NAACP to replicate its afterschool teen drop-in center in Wilkes-Barre.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Maher-Gray of the picnic. “Everyone is so nice and so friendly. So many smiles and people supporting what we do.”
Lauren Barnes, NAACP executive committee member, wants the event to be an example of what can happen when a community comes together.
“It takes a lot of effort from a lot of organizations coming together for this to happen. We are very grateful for the wonderful community support that we have,” said Barnes. “A group of us were here at 7 a.m. this morning getting everything ready.”
Guerline Laurore, president of the Wilkes-Barre NAACP, echoed Barnes’ appreciation for the sponsors and thanked the city as well.
“The success is not all the glory to the NAACP, it’s really a testament to what Wilkes-Barre is trying to do in terms of embracing everybody,” she said. “Wilkes-Barre, through us, and through what they are doing to assist us, is saying no to hate.”