By Shelby Brown–

Interim President Greg Postel joined Louisville’s unity rally yesterday, reaching out to West Virginia. Postel released his statement in an email today.

Protests of white nationalist marchers’ presence in Charlottesville, Virginia Friday left three dead and several injured. Nationalist marchers organized to protest the removal of a statue for confederate general Robert E. Lee.

A unity rally organized in Jefferson square park and a Black Lives Matter group met at the Carl Braden Memorial Center.

“We must choose understanding and support,” Postel said. “We must choose unity.”

U of L witnessed white nationalist activity in February when stickers promoting the Traditionalist Worker’s Party were found and removed from campus.

Postel says ten years ago a “hate group” protested on campus, and in 2003 the Ku Klux Klan requested access to U of L’s free speech zone. Initially, the request was denied. Later, the group was allowed to come.

“The stress caused by that planned protest, the emotions it raised, the fear and anger among some of our students, faculty and staff, was palpable. A situation similar to that in Charlottesville was quite possible,” Postel said.

Postel thanks U of L’s teamwork, culture and luck for that protest’s peaceful outcome.

“Instead of violence, we chose education. We committed to civil conversation, talking to each other and learning from each other. The violence – the hatred – that many feared would divide our campus never came to pass,” Postel said. “We chose unity. And we became a stronger community because of it.”

Postel encouraged U of L to keep working towards unity to prevent events like Charlottesville from happening here.

“Today, our university is considered one of the most diverse, tolerant and welcoming campuses in the United States and particularly in the south. We are proud of this distinction, and we work at it every day,” Postel said.