In the wake of a White supremacist allegedly killing a young woman for challenging the KKK and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., students are speaking out to demand justice.
Howard University students, alumni and staff chartered a bus to Charlottesville, Va. on Aug. 19 to remember the life Heather Heyer, who was killed Aug. 12 as she protested against racist groups marching to preserve the legacy of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Heyer’s death has sparked a movement across the country by a new generation of activist from diverse racial backgrounds.
A group of Howard University students travelled to Charlottesville, Va. in order to demand justice. (Courtesy photo)
Regan Jones, 37, a college student from Alexandria, Va., said: “What happened in Charlottesville broke my heart. I was crying. We’re still dealing with racism, hate and disregard for humanity.”
Jones, a staffing specialist, has already met with the US Park Service to organize a peace rally on the National Mall next year.
“It is time for people of all races regardless of age and status to come together,” she said.” I’m tired of waiting for someone else to organize. I’m doing it myself.”
Jones said she was moved to organize after her 6-year-old son watched the Charlottesville saga on TV and asked her why the people were fighting. “I didn’t know what to tell that poor child. It was the first time in my life I didn’t know what to tell my son,” she said.
She, like many in her generation said a new tactic has to arise to stop racism.
As Howard Students stood in the rain on Aug. 19 where Heyer was killed, they were joined by Whites and the entire memorial was captured on YouTube as well as their march to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville.
“They tried to kill my child to shut her up, but guess what, you just magnified her,” Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, said at her funeral.
Howard Professor Keneshia Grant said she was proud of her student’s actions. She said that her students didn’t need an invitation to go to Charlottesville and they were not asked to come by a larger group.
“Howard students realize that they have power and they are knowledgeable about the past and they use that to inform themselves about what they should do in terms of organizing,” Grant told the AFRO.
In terms of going forward and organizing, Grant noted that Black leadership is more “decentralized” and not top down as itwas in the 1960s. She said students today “have a notion that they can organize themselves,” and if there are other like-minded groups, they do seek partnerships.
Grant, a member of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Northwest D.C., said she goes to church to worship and not to engage in politics. But, Rev. William Lamar, respectively disagreed with Grant saying “Every church is inherently political.”
“I am honest enough to admit that my politics are the politics of Jesus and of liberation,” Lamar told the AFRO. “My politics demand that every person eats, every person has a living wage job, every person has health care, every person has shelter, and every person lives in decency.”