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‘Silence is consent:’ Loudoun community bands together for campaign against racism

J.J. and LeAnne McNamara of Purcellville, organizers of the Orange Ribbon Campaign against hate.Times-Mirror/Alexander Todd Erkiletian
When LeAnne McNamara and her family woke up the Sunday of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, they were horrified to learn a nearby neighborhood had been peppered with Ku Klux Klan propaganda.

They decided to take action so their neighbors would know they are loved.

The McNamaras decided to make ribbons that town residents could tie on doors or mailboxes to show unity and love in the face of intolerance. McNamara’s daughters Googled and found the color orange aligned with their mission, and the Orange Ribbon Campaign was born.

“I didn’t want my neighbors to look around and say, ‘Where’s the outrage?’ Silence is consent, and I wanted them to have the opposite message,” McNamara said. “So my family decided a simple orange ribbon would be an immediate answer.”

The McNamara family started going door-to-door passing out ribbons. With each ribbon came the message: “We as a community display this orange ribbon, a sign of love and unity, in response to expressions of hate and bigotry.”

After a couple days, word spread and they decided to get organized, LeAnne McNamara said. Since then, the family has created a Facebook page for the campaign.

Seven Loudoun residents gathered at the Purcellville library Jan. 29 to brainstorm ideas on how to expand the message of love and unity. From that meeting, the campaign branched out to Leesburg after local resident Laura Giessler hosted a ribbon-cutting party.

The McNamara family’s original goal was to distribute 500 ribbons. That was a cakewalk. The Leesburg group alone distributed more than 1,000 orange ribbons, McNamara said.

“It was just an idea, but it’s been the neighbors and the people I’ve reached out to that have done the work and spread the word and spread awareness,” McNamara said. “People are taking the idea and running with it which, is great. Spreading awareness is the whole idea.”

McNamara shared her family’s campaign at last month’s NAACP meeting. An NAACP member delivered orange ribbons to the Leesburg Rotary Club, McNamara said.

The goal is to show support for the targets of recent threatening literature and also to kickstart consciousness by acknowledging that the threats target the whole community, not just racial or religious minorities, McNamara said.

As time goes on, McNamara hopes the ribbons on doors and mailboxes will continue to spread, and the group is also making orange ribbon lapel pins for people to wear. McNamara said the goal of the campaign is to keep the conversation going.

“It feels like people need something to grab on to, to feel like they are a part of the community and everyone’s looking out for one another,” she said. “The goal is to keep it going, that we keep the conversation going and learn for one another and stop and pause and hear each other’s personal stories and take the time to get to know a neighbor that we haven’t met yet.”


Lawman - Those few Klan members will eventually disappear as they just die off, unless you keep giving them a platform to use as a recruitment tool.

Anyone who thinks the Klan and White Supremacist will disappear if you ignore them need to be watered twice a day.

More symbolism over substance. Go ahead and wear the pin so you’ll feel better…after all, it’s all about feelings, right?

Explain how the county attorney was charged with spousal abuse or something close and that is OK?  That is some serious silence that should not be ignored either, but apparently was by the bos.

My guess is that if they were peppered that they had been singled out. Probably not snowflakes. It also looks like the propaganda worked, just not they way it was intended.

Orange ribbon campaign, Sounds like White upper class paternalism to me. The very Dangerous streets of Purcellville where Tech and Government workers who make $300k per year are being harassed by the KKK. It’s laughable what people think real problems are these days.

Just imagine had no one showed up to the KKK march in Charlottesville, what would have happened?  That’s right, nothing.  No voice, no publicity, no violence.  Y’all played right into their hands.

Meanwhile the LTM & LO are giving the few miscreants all the free press they need.  Silence is exactly what we need.  Don’t mention them giving them their voice & they will fade away,

Excellent work and a BIG thank you to the McNamaras!

There are those out there that will try to distract from your message of love and unity, but they are the ones that are in the minority and will eventually miss out.
Empathy and understanding are key components of a healthy and vibrant community.  Furthermore, individuals living in healthy and vibrant communities are in an environment that contribute toward their own success (aka brain over brawn).  This is a core value of America.

Kudos-this is a great idea. Thank you.

Now, more than ever, if you’re not pleased by what our country’s becoming, it’s time to show your displeasure. 

When we have the President of the United States saying that there are good people marching at white supremacy rallies, silence is indeed consent.

What racism?  I want specific incidents.

And some individual of unknown origin/motive placing fliers in the middle of the night does not count.

What threat?

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