March for Racial Justice takes on Washington Streets

Aileen Ida October 14, 2017 0

M4RJ2Photo by Aileen Ida

The views expressed in this article are not inherently those of the Etownian, its staff or Elizabethtown College as a whole.

Saturday, Sept. 30, over 40 Elizabethtown College students had the opportunity to take part in the March for Racial Justice in Washington, D.C.

I was lucky enough to be one of those students.

Those of us who went on the trip did so with the sponsorship of the Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking with Dr. Michael Long, associate professor of religious studies, and Stephanie Diaz, Interim Coordinator for Multicultural Programs and Residential Communities, as our chaperones.

There were actually two marches at the same time. One was the March for Black Women and the other was the March for Racial Justice. Each had separate rallies and then came together to march through the streets of downtown D.C.

Eventually, the marchers came together on the National Mall to listen to speakers and musical performances.

While there don’t seem to be specific numbers released from the march, permits filed beforehand estimated 3000 marchers in total.

The March for Racial Justice held a rally prior to the march at Lincoln Park.

I cannot speak for the rally held before the march regarding the March for Black Women, but the rally prior to the March for Racial Justice included speakers from various backgrounds.

One such speaker, an indigenous’ rights activist, started off his speech by saying, “These are my ancestral homelands that you are standing on.”

The power of his speech left many in deep inspiration to continue to fight for the rights of all underrepresented people.

Other speakers included local faith leaders and immigrant rights’ activists. Everyone who took the stage did so with the power and support of their ancestors who fought for justice, as well as those of us marching for justice that day.

While this wasn’t my first political protest (I went to the Women’s March and attended a protest against DAPL, among others) it was one of the most inspiring movements I have been a part of during my time in college.

While the group was small compared to the Women’s March, it was peaceful and powerful.

Part of the march included passing Trump Tower, outside of which people kneeled in unity with those in the NFL who have been kneeling in support of racial justice.

Throughout the march, rallying chants were passed through the masses. Many focused on the issue of police brutality with chants such as “No Justice. No Peace,” and “We don’t get no justice. You don’t get no peace.”

Many marchers carried signs in support of those who have been killed by police officers of the last few years. This march was planned following the acquittal of the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile in 2016.

The rally following the march included a speech from Castile’s mother, Valeria Castile.

I am extremely thankful that I was given the opportunity to participate in this march and am excited to keep working towards a better, more just country throughout my time in college and beyond.

While I understand that political protest, especially about issues such as racial justice, may not be the focus of every student on this campus, I think it would be remiss to say that this kind of issue isn’t in line with the College’s mission.

With our history of peacemaking and social justice, I can think of no better way to live our motto “Educate for Service” than to go out and march side-by-side with people working for justice and a better world.

We have the opportunity on this campus to have real conversations about social justice issues—especially through events sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and events at the Mosaic House, but it’s essential that people actually take advantage of these opportunities. Often times, when these events are held, it’s the same group of people talking about how great it would be to get new people involved.

Be the new person. Reach out and take the opportunities you are given to make a difference.

It is our responsibility as the upcoming generation to make change where change is needed, no matter how difficult it may seem.

 

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