WASHINGTON, PA (Sept. 28, 2020)—Students at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) showcased their passion for social justice, organizing a tribute to black lives in response to national events.
Led by club President Tamia Mickens ‘21 and Vice President Jasmine Dey ‘23, the W&J Black Student Union (BSU) organized a vigil on Sunday, Sept. 27 dubbed W&J BSU’s Celebration of Black Lives. The event brought together students from across the W&J community—all masked and socially distanced—to the College amphitheater where Tamia and Jasmine led a powerful remembrance of those who have lost their lives to racial injustice, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. After a brief program, those in attendance were able to lay flowers beneath a photo of Taylor in remembrance of her.
During the event, Tamia read the names and ages of just a few victims of police brutality and vigilante violence within the past three decades.
“2020 has been tumultuous and devastating in so many ways; an election year, a pandemic, and what many of us feel like is a civil rights movement, part two,” she said to those in attendance. “2020 [also] has been plagued by black death: Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi; our first publicized black superhero, Chadwick Boseman; and a string of three names that set off a revolution in our hearts, in our classrooms and on the streets. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. We gather here this evening to celebrate black life and to celebrate who they were before they became a headline.”
As the evening continued, the student leaders asked the W&J community to join the fight for racial equity and challenge racist ideas and behaviors as they encounter them.
“I’m standing here today at this college amongst people who don’t look like me [and] people who do look like me because someone once fought for my rights,” Jasmine said to the crowd. “So if we continue to fight, if we continue to push forward, if we continue to demand that our lives matter, then it will be worth something.”
The decision in Breonna Taylor’s case served as the catalyst for the BSU to plan their tribute, and the students took to Twitter to deliver a statement through a series of tweets, promising to organize an event in Taylor’s honor. The students acted quickly after initially tweeting their statement on Thursday, Sept. 24 to put together the Celebration of Black Lives.
BSU streamed their event via Instagram Live and have added the stream to their IGTV feed, which you can view here.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.