continued Liverpool native Gregg Tripoli, now the executive director of the Onondaga Historical Association, delivered the keynote speech, a sweeping overview of Central New York’s activist legacy. Tripoli chronicled the anti-slavery movement, the battle for women’s suffrage and anti-war efforts here, but he also pointed to the establishment of orphanages and homes for the elderly as important social endeavors.
“Whenever groups of people were marginalized and under-represented,” he said, “activists responded to their needs.” Examples he cited included the Onondaga-Indian Welfare Society begun in 1911, the Rescue Mission established here in 1923 and InterFaith Works founded in 1976.
“InterFaith Works has settled more than 10,000 refugees in the Syracuse area,” Tripoli said. “By so doing they’re building unity and affirming dignity for future generations.”
In the 21st century, local institutions such as the Dunbar Center and the Syracuse Peace Council and Syracuse Cultural Workers continue to battle racism and militarism, he said, while newer groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Syracuse have formed to represent an emerging constituency.
“Through it all one thing is certain,” Tripoli said. “The fight for social justice continues. It takes a community to life a community, to make the world a better place for everybody.”