Harborfields High School students Sharon Lin and Jacob Siegel helped organize...

Harborfields High School students Sharon Lin and Jacob Siegel helped organize the town Anti-Bias Concert at Huntington Village's Heckscher Park on Saturday. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

Two Harborfields High School students concerned by the increase in bias incidents and crimes against Asian Americans that made headlines across the nation in the past year wanted to draw attention to the issue in their community.

After considering a couple of ideas, incoming seniors Sharon Lin and Jacob Siegel, both 17 and of Centerport, settled on having a concert to remind people that racism exists, that people in their community are dealing with it — and that they need to confront hate and bias.

"A concert was the best way to get the message out about discrimination because we thought it was a good way for the community to come together and enjoy a fun afternoon with their friends and family of all ages while also supporting a good message," Lin said. "We believe that music is a great way to bring people together."

The students reached out to local county and town officials along with youth leaders in the community who all supported them, but the idea was strictly theirs.

As a result of their efforts, Huntington Town will hold its first Anti-Bias Concert Saturday in Heckscher Park.

The free event in Huntington Village will feature more than a dozen acts performing songs and poetry that embody messages of anti-bias and awareness of discrimination. There will be dance performances from local high school students as well as speakers from the town’s African American, Asian American and Hispanic Advisory task force organizations.

Attendees also can donate to the food pantry at Tri Community & Youth Agency in Huntington Station.

"We wanted to do more than just post something on Instagram," Siegel said. "Talking about discrimination is a tough conversation to have but it’s important to talk about and necessary."

Town Board Member Joan Cergol, who with colleague Mark Cuthbertson co-sponsored the resolution for the concert, said she wanted the town to support Lin and Siegel’s endeavor because of its important message.

"We need to give our youth a stage and a voice," Cergol said. "Particularly in these difficult and challenging times we can learn a lot, there’s a lot we can learn from our youth and they certainly have a lot to say."

Locally, last summer demonstrators took to the streets outside a Huntington Village restaurant after a bias incident. The restaurant owner came under fire for posting racist comments online about a group of young people peacefully protesting against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. The incident sparked calls for community unity and more peaceful protests.

"We’ve seen an increase in attacks people face, simple bias and microaggressions because of their race, sexuality and religion," Siegel said.

Cuthbertson said it’s "absolutely" important that the idea for a concert promoting racial harmony came from young people.

"The Anti-Bias Concert will bring attention to and reduce bias by promoting understanding, compassion and tolerance through artistic performance and personal expression."

Lin said, "I just want our community to come together and show that we’re accepting, and we are here for one another." She added, "Huntington is a place where anyone can come, everyone is accepted, and everyone is loved. That's the message."

Anti-Bias Concert

The event is free on Saturday, Aug. 21, 1 to 4 p.m., Heckscher Park’s Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage.

Concert performers will include Aidan Katz, Emelie Hochwald and Sofia Cuti, Harborfields High School musicians uniting for their freshman performance as a band; Moore Theobald and Riley Maguire will duet; Ta'Tiānna Lane, Finbar Mac and Anaya Watkis, local singers who are performing separately; and Izzy Potter, a local singer-songwriter.

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