The HWS community gathered for a non-violent procession, performance and eulogy earlier this month in honor of Michael Brown, the Missouri teen killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson. After a three month investigation, a grand jury declined to indict Wilson.
“We are very interested in ensuring that we recognize people are affected by the grand jury decision and by an ongoing history of loss of black lives in the U.S. and to make sure that we stand up for that and show that we are listening,” says Associate Professor of Theatre Heather May. May organized the event with Assistant Professor of Philosophy Rodmon King and Assistant Professor of Political Science Justin Rose.
Participants gathered on the steps of Scandling Campus Center and proceeded through campus and concluded at the Barn where student theatre group Mosaic NY performed a social justice piece in protest of the events in Ferguson. The performance was followed by eulogies by Denisse Cotto ’15 and King for Michael Brown and the other black men and women who have not received justice during their lives. This was followed by an open forum for reflection and discussion.
“The march was very powerful,” says Dominque Miller ’15. “It not only informed students, but it provided a forum for voices of the HWS and Geneva community to be heard. These expressions, I believe, made those who attended very comfortable with sharing their own perspective, and even brought one young man to tears.”
Name Traore, a William Smith junior, was one of the founders of the “We the Unheard” club on campus. Traore worked closely with the other club founders, Josiah Bramble, Jocelyn McKenzie, Jackeline Matos and Tansha Genao, as well as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the IC house, Student Activities and Campus Safety to put this event together. The mission statement of We the Unheard is “to address the failures of the institution regarding racial inequalities that can intersect with both gender and sexuality while offering solution that foster an inclusive community at HWS.”
“Violence is often the recourse of, as Martin Luther King would say, the voice for the unheard,” Rose says. “So what we are trying to do is provide an outlet for people to be heard without having to have any recourse to violence.”