Skip To Content
We’ve Taken Down the Forward Paywall: An Open Letter to Our ReadersRead Now
Forward 50 2017

Michael Signer

Charlottesville’s Mayor Spoke Out After Hateful Rally

A college professor and small-town mayor, Mike Signer never planned to be at the center of a national controversy. But hours after Charlottesville, Virginia, witnessed a deadly attack following hours of neo-Nazi marches, Signer was thrust into the spotlight, faulting the Trump White House for empowering these groups. “I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.

Raised in a Jewish family in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, Signer, 44, had his first real encounter with anti-Semitism when he supported the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from a city square. When the KKK rolled into town August 12, online slurs targeting Signer were replaced with chants of “Jew, Jew, Jew,” every time speakers mentioned his name.

Signer’s career has bridged progressive Democratic politics, academia and foreign policy. When one tumultuous August weekend made Charlottesville synonymous with American racism, Signer embraced his new role, trying to make sure his community became better known for standing up to hate-mongers.

He is still embroiled in infighting over the protest and its aftermath. Critics claim the city did not provide enough protection to counter-protesters, while Signer has criticized the local police’s conduct.

Rumored to be eyeing a higher political office, Signer now faces an uncertain future. But he will always be remembered for responding swiftly and decisively to events that many thought couldn’t happen in America.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.