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The Four Freedoms Ring Loud And Strong In Pittsfield, Mass.
Lisa Green reports from Pittsfield. Those of us who live in or visit the land of Norman Rockwell are intimately familiar with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech through the Rockwell paintings depicting freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of religion (on view at the Norman Rockwell Museum). On a cold Saturday, Jan. 7 — the 76th anniversary of FDR’s famous speech — more than 1,500 people walked the talk in Pittsfield, Mass. at the Four Freedoms March and Rally. The event was spearheaded by the Four Freedoms Coalition, a new, non-partisan, diverse coalition of over 150 community groups, nonprofit organizations, businesses and elected officials. To an over-capacity crowd at First Church of Christ, speeches by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Congressman Richard Neal, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, James Roosevelt (grandson of FDR), Dennis Powell, president of the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP, and others emphasized the coalition’s mission: to uphold the American values as stated in the Four Freedoms, reject all forms of bigotry, hate and prejudice, and defend and reclaim the Four Freedoms for all people. Markey urged the diverse audience to remain true to their revolutionary roots by fighting for the values they believe in. “We are not just any state,” he said. “We are the state that begins these revolutions.” Responses to the speeches — and interactions among the participants — were overwhelmingly positive. “This isn’t a rally against anything,” Timothy Mahon, a professor at Williams College, told The Berkshire Eagle. “This is in support of the ideals of the United States.” [Above, inveterate organizer Megan Whilden with Sen. Ed Markey.]
At St. Joseph’s Church, the gathering place for the march, participants were encouraged to create their own signs; Tobi Lanciano and Ellen Lanciano, owners of Tobi’s Limo, flank Jeanet Ingalls and social media consultant Eugenie Sills as they all wait for the march to start.
Pam Rich of Paul Rich and Sons and Sarah Frenkel prepare to march.
Nan Bookless of BookMarc Creative shows off her 4 Freedoms sign; Tina Maffuccio and Joe Maffuccio, a para professional and teacher, respectively, at Reid Middle School, join the crowd.
Marchers head indoors for the rally. Photo: Nan Bookless.
Jason Verschot and Joseph Farnes, both of Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition, flank Peter Marchetti, Pittsfield City Council president (and a speaker at the rally) and Mass. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier; The packed church. Photo: Nan Bookless.
Coalition partners to set up “action tables” at the church following the rally to encourage community members to “commit to one concrete action;” Rosemary Rahns and Chris Tucci of Railroad Street Youth Project at their action table.