Campus and community unite for Solidarity March & Rally

Members of the University and Lewisburg communities join together to discuss present issues of social justice at the 19th annual Solidarity March & Rally.

Haley Mullen, Contributing Writer

Two days after the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history by a single shooter, the Solidarity March and Rally served as a platform for students and members of the community to discuss current social justice issues. The Solidarity March and Rally, organized by the University’s Social Justice Residential College and the Lewisburg CommUnity Zone, was held on Oct. 3 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Students, faculty, and community members marched from the front of the Bertrand Library to Hufnagle Park where several participants spoke and performed.

Effiem Obasi ’20, Junior Fellow for the Social Justice Residential College and volunteer for CommUnity Zone, described the event as “a call to action from the people in the community to prompt some kind of change.”

The first Solidarity March was held in 1998 as a response to the murders, both hate crimes, of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd. Speakers at this year’s event addressed current issues including racial inequality, gun violence, and religious intolerance among other topics.

While a clipboard with Pennsylvania voter registration information was passed through the crowd, speakers such as Shirah Moffatt-Darko ’18 called for national action. Before leading the crowd in a moment of silence, Moffatt-Darko urged those in attendance to “brainstorm actions so that environmental disasters are fewer and less devastating, mass shootings do not occur, and that black lives matter enough that we don’t have to take a knee.”

Steva Stowell-Hardcastle, legislative leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, also echoed this call for progress, declaring “now is the time to disarm hate.”

“This is our little piece of the world in which we can make a big difference. This gathering represents the planting of seeds so we can go forward and do our part to make sure everyone is safe. This is a community where respect lives,” Mayor of Lewisburg Judy Wagner said on the possibility of change and acceptance within the community.

Other speakers directly addressed the University, including Joelle Andres-Beck ’20 who spoke on the University’s awareness and accommodations for its disabled students and faculty.

“I don’t want the school to disregard a ramp on a new building because it does not look grandiose,” Andres-Beck said. “Just as a person of color cannot change their skin, and no LGBTQ person can change who they are, I am disabled every moment I am alive.”

University President John Bravman spoke regarding the University’s increased efforts of inclusion and action through the joining of the Campus Compact coalition, which Bravman stated “works to reaffirm public good in all higher education.” Bravman also expressed his gratitude for the organizers of the Solidarity March and those in attendance, stating he is “grateful for the inspiration our students provide and that we, the staff, are able to provide to them.”

Performer Andy Seal concluded the rally. The crowd, many seated under the American flag flying at half mast to honor those killed in the Las Vegas shooting, joined in as Seal strummed John Lennon’s “Imagine” on his guitar singing “imagine all the people, living life in peace.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been corrected online to indicate that the Las Vegas shooting was the largest in U.S. modern history. We apologize for the print article’s misidentification.

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