CHICAGO, IL (December 26, 2016) – When a small group of residents who live near North Park University designed posters with the words “Hate Has No Home Here” a few weeks ago, they never expected their work to end up in the hands of Khzir Khan, who was photographed with one of their posters at a banquet sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Arlington, Virginia.
The group discovered that an eight-year-old girl gave the poster to Khan, the Gold Star father who has spoken out against racism and religious intolerance. They have no idea who the girl was, but they saw the event as evidence of how widely their neighborhood effort has spread.
“We were all blown away when we saw Mr. Kahn display the poster last week,” said group member Kurt Peterson. “Our goal was to make a difference in our neighborhood, but the message is spreading around the world.”
The group, which includes several Covenanters, started the campaign to focus specifically on their own neighborhood, which has one of the most diverse populations in the United States. A local third grade student came up with the slogan, “Hate Has No Home Here.”
The effort garnered international attention when the group started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $600 to cover the cost of printing the signs. Their appeal went viral. So far, the group has raised more than $10,000 and printed thousands of posters that now hang in the windows of people’s homes, businesses, and churches. “We want this to be a model that other neighborhoods can follow,” Peterson said. “Our hope is to foster a movement where people get to know their neighbors as people, not as types.”
The group has since printed hundreds of lawn signs, and is now expanding to bumper stickers, window clingers, and considering other possibilities, Peterson said.
The original signs were printed in English, Arabic, Urdu, Korean, Hebrew, and Spanish, which are the dominant languages of the North Park neighborhood. The group is working with Heartland Alliance translators to provide other languages. More than 27 translations are now available, including Polish, Hmong, and Farsi.
The movement has now spread far beyond the Chicago neighborhood to 29 states and several countries, including Sweden, Ecuador, and Egypt.
Steven Luce, who lives in the neighborhood and is director of creative services for the Covenant, designed the logo. “We wanted to create a nonpartisan symbol that represents America at its best, when love of country and love of neighbor work hand in hand to chip away at the walls that divide us,” he said.
Hate Has No Home Here is a neighborhood-based movement that seeks to counter racism and intolerance through positive messaging and community-building practices. Because they are nonpartisan, they make all posters available in both red and blue.
The materials are available for free download so anyone can print them and post them in their homes. “All we ask is that people not change the image, which is copyrighted, and not profit at all from printing the signs,” Peterson said. “One group sold signs for $10 so the proceeds would go to another nonprofit. But that violates our purpose. The signs are the purpose at the moment, and all our resources go to the printing and distribution of signs, as well as to helping other groups get started. Our goal is for all in our community to know that they are respected, valued, and safe.”
In addition to Peterson and Luce, other Covenanters also in the group are Barbara Nordlund and Jeanne Marie Olson.
The group is now enlarging the size of their steering committee to reflect greater diversity and planning an event for 2017. Peterson said they want the event to be a place where community members of all nationalities, ethnicities, and religions can gather and get to know one another face to face.