LEWISTON (WGME) -- 10 years ago, the history of the immigrant population in Lewiston changed forever. The "Many and One" rally, a movement to support the Somalis in the city, transformed the city. And now, residents are remembering that day.
In less than a half an hour the celebration will begin here at the public library. It's been ten years since a rally to fight racism in the city brought thousands of people together in support of the Somalis.
Life changed forever for Mahamed Mahamud on January 11, 2003. "Wow. It was like yesterday. I see them still" he says.
A Somali immigrant to the United States, he had only been living in Lewiston for two years when the "Many and One” rally energized many of the city's residents in a fight against racism.
Mahamud: "I can never forget all my life that day. You know? It's like people gave to me my hope, my love and my honest way."
An out-of-state hate group called "The World Church of the Creator" hosted a rally in Lewiston calling for the Somalis to leave the city.
A larger, counter movement called the "Many and One" rally at Bates College was quickly put together. This rally embraced diversity and the city embraced it. So many people came out to support the Somalis that hundreds had to be turned away for lack of space.
Sarah Davis, director of Welcoming Maine: "It's a story of unity when many different people came together from all different walks of life and stood together and raised their voices and said, “this is us.” We might look different, we might sound different, we might speak different languages, but we are all unified as one Lewiston/Auburn together."
Now, 10 years later, the city continues to remember and for Mahamed, it's a moment he'll never forget.
Mahamud: "I can never forget my life. You know when people come together to show you support and where you are for this is far away from here. Two different nations. You can't forget that nation. Those people come that night and that."