FARGO COUPLE HONORED BY ADL FOR RALLYING COMMUNITY AGAINST
Chicago, IL, November 4, 1995...The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today honored
a Fargo, North Dakota couple for getting their community to stand up against
hatred. Tracy and Mark Aksamit called upon the good people of Fargo to come
together to protest bigotry, after learning that an Iranian woman had allegedly
been the victim of a vicious hate crime.
Reports that the woman had been found bound and gagged, with slash wounds
on her abdomen which appeared to form a swastika, and left to die in her
family's burning restaurant, led the Aksamits to act. They organized what
turned out to be an unprecedented gathering of nearly 1,000 to say their
community would not tolerate racism, bigotry and hatred. The Aksamits received
the ADL Community Action Award at the League's 82nd Annual National Commission
Meeting at The Drake Hotel in Chicago.
"Tracy and Mark Aksamit heard a story of racism, and were horrified,"
said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in presenting the award.
"Quickly they hit on the idea of a community rally.
"It is vitally important," said Foxman, "that the ADL identify
and acknowledge the kind of people who say no to racism, who say no to apathy,
who say no to hatred in their own communities. It is at the very heart of
our mission -- to secure justice and fair treatment for all. When we can
identify partners in this noble mission, it is both our honor and our obligation
to thank them and to hold them up to the rest of the world as models."
Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno addressed the National
Commission Meeting, describing the Fargo incident as an example of people
coming together to fight bigots. She commended ADL on its "proud history
of 82 years of making a difference to this nation. Keep doing what you have
been doing," she said, "building bridges and defeating hatred."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.