On January 21, about 20,000 people gathered in Atlanta for the monumental March for Social Justice and Women. One day after President Trump’s inauguration, the rally was in conjunction with the Women’s March in Washington, DC. Buses from Emory’s Clairmont campus took students to the starting point of the march at the Center for Civil and Human Rights to be part of the historical event, including first-year Jocelyn Stanfield. Jocelyn, who was a part of many Black Lives Matter protests in high school, went because “[she felt] strongly about supporting Women’s rights and the promotion of women’s health. [She is] also adamantly against Donald Trump so [she] went to protest the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood.” The march was significant for those who felt that Trump’s presidency threatened their human rights. Speakers at the event included Congressman John Lewis, Staci Fox-President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast and various government officials who understood that the rhetoric of the 2016 presidential election insulted, degraded and threatened the basis of American ideals for women, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, Black and Brown people, and more. But, Jocelyn’s favorite part of the march was not the celebrity speeches. She found inspiration in all of her fellow marchers, young and old. “I saw a little African American girl holding up a “Still we Rise” sign which made me realize how impactful the march truly was to spread to even young children like that, it was truly extraordinary. I think that gave me a sense of purpose, it told me that what I was participating in would be important for future generations to come.”
The march was about the future and the question of “what’s next?” Participants were concerned with how to move forward in the face of the reality that their country’s president does not support the vibrant and diverse communities they are a part of. The main response Jocelyn found to the above concern is to speak up when you are upset about something. She believes that “there is a danger in complacency and a lot of Americans seem content with watching this country unravel which is how horrible things can begin.” No one should be afraid to speak up because it is a right promised in our Constitution. There are social and political responsibilities placed upon everyone in light of our new President. We, as Black college students, should be involved in political activism in order for us to gain and maintain the right to human dignity that history tries to block us from. After marching to the State Capitol, Jocelyn agrees with the above sentiment by saying, “I personally think they [Black college students] should; it would not be right to just watch history go by without attempting to be a part of it. As Black students who have gone through all kinds of racial prejudice, it should fall upon us to help others who might be going through the same injustice. I do understand that many students do not feel comfortable speaking out, or may not realize the significance of their words, but any help to the cause can go a long way and I hope people will recognize that.”
At the end of the day, speaking out and standing up happens in all different ways and no way is better than next because action of any kind is productive. But, the question is what will your way be?
By: Imani Brooks, Staff Writer