Emerson and 16 Boston universities walk out in solidarity with Mizzou

by Megan Anderson / Beacon Correspondent • November 18, 2015

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Students from Emerson and other local colleges marched to show support for those who face racism in higher education.
Students from Emerson and other local colleges marched to show support for those who face racism in higher education.

Emerson students joined participants from 16 other Boston-area universities in a protest on Monday to stand in solidarity with students of color at University of Missouri, Yale University, and Howard University and to pursue justice for students of color in Massachusetts schools.

Hundreds of college students attended the event, planned by Emerson students Sarah Alli and Taylor Jett and Berklee College of Music student Simone Alyse.

The students planned the march in under four days, according to Alli. The event was also coordinated with 15 colleges nationally.

Their decision to organize the protest was prompted by the acts of racism that took place at the University of Missouri, Alyse said at the event.

“It’s time for a change,” Alyse said. “We are all united.”

“I think it’s important [to show support] especially with all the [acts of racism] going on,” said Sarah Maugaotega, a sophomore journalism major who participated in the protest.

The participants walked out of classes and activities at 12 p.m. and gathered at the Boston Common gazebo. President M. Lee Pelton participated in the walk with other administrators.

In the first public speech, junior visual and media arts major Nathaniel Charles said that while Emerson faculty members are taking steps towards improving the college experience for students of color, other institutions in our country have not followed suit.

“There are schools fraught with racism that aren’t doing anything about it,” Charles said.

As more people arrived, several other students spoke. Hantzley Audate, a junior marketing communication major, read the organizers’ list of demands, including educational institutes changing their hiring policies to ensure unbiased and diverse faculty, increasing funding for counseling and social justice centers, and creating a curriculum that focuses on racial awareness for all students, faculty, staff, and administration, according to the event’s Facebook page.

The crowd walked for an hour from the State House down Beacon Hill and across Newbury Street, monitored by Boston police officers.

Participants yelled several chants coined by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, including, “We pay for education, not for discrimination,” “No justice, no peace; we’re getting killed in these streets,” and “Whose streets? Our streets.”

They ended at Copley Square, where the protesters stopped in the street and joined hands in a moment of silence.

“These streets really are ours,” said Audate in Copley Square, following the moment of silence. “The world is watching, and we need to be the ones that rise above.”

Managing editor Hunter Harris, who wrote an op-ed about issues related to the walkout, did not edit this article.