Story and photos by Maddy Linden
Student leaders organized a Take A Knee rally “for freedom of speech, the right to have one’s life protected under the law,” Wednesday evening on the lawn in front of Durick Library. About 75 students, staff and members of the community joined the Center for Multicultural Affairs and Services and the basketball team in a show of solidarity with the national movement to kneel during the National Anthem. The rally gathered about 75 people and lasted 20 minutes. Rev. Lino Oropeza started off the gathering with community reflection and read “My Brothers Keeper,” a short poem that he altered to make more inclusive. The poem is about being someone’s voice, protector, strength, justice when they cannot reach those things themselves.
As the sun went down Winston Jones II, ‘19, who plays for the basketball team, he told the crowd what taking a knee meant to him. “Taking a knee is an act of respect, it’s an act of prayer, an act of recognizing a fallen soldier…we need to recognize our fellow American Citizens that are being treated unfairly. We need to recognize how people of color are being severely injured socially, politically and economically. We need to pray for better days ahead” Jones said.
Both Sophie Adams ’18, President of the SA and Jake Meyers ’19, Secretary of Student Life spoke at the rally about the importance of standing with their fellow classmates and community members. “We kneel in solidarity, we kneel to change these divided states.” said Adams.
Melanie Castillo, ’18 and president of the MLK society spoke to the group once the sun had set. “Within just a few moments we will be taking a knee. Not as an assault against the United States military, our flag, or our national anthem. Nationwide, folks are taking a knee as a vehicle to protest inequality, and racial injustice as perpetrated by the lack of accountability for police brutality, and other forms of injustice against people of color. We have a right to safety. We have a right to have our lives be protected. We have a right to live free of intimidation and oppression.”
“We kneel today choosing love,” Castillo said, as residence life staff and others handed candles to people in the gathering who chose to kneel. Moise St. Louis, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Multicultural Student Services, then began singing “This Little Light of Mine” and others joined in. After, there was silence.
“Our constitution gives us the first amendment right to raise our voices, to make a speech and to march and to rally or take a knee and protest whether that’s in a government building or on a football field. At the heart of it, it’s what is means to be in a free country,” Castillo said.