MSA welcomes Judge Clifton Graves for a speech at the Myatt Center during Black History Month

Black History Month events are ongoing throughout February, with the latest one being a speech from Judge Clifton Graves of New Haven, Conn. The Muslim Student Association (MSA) invited Graves to talk to students at the Myatt Center this past Friday.
The event started with a reminder about donations being made to assist the people of Syria after the catastrophic earthquake which struck the country. Then, Adrielys Gomez, a graduate student studying business administration and the president of MSA, introduced Judge Graves. Graves is a probate judge who previously worked in advocacy and is “an experienced lawyer, educator, public service administrator,” said Gomez. Graves’ resume includes assisting residents returning home from incarceration with Project Fresh Start, being Alumnus of the Year at the Frederick Gunn School and being awarded a Distinguished Citizen Award from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.
When Graves went up to speak, he engaged the audience in call-and-response. “Mountain, move out of my way. Mountain of intolerance, move out of my way. Mountain of indifference, move out of my way. Mountain of injustice, move out of my way,” Graves and the audience said. “Because I am somebody, and I can be anything and will be anything, anything, anything I want to be. With my mind, I can conceive it. And my heart can believe it. And I know, I know, I know I can achieve it. Mountain, mountain, move out of my way.”
After this interaction, Graves said, “I had the experience and an opportunity to serve and to understand and appreciate the importance of diversity and the respect one must have for different points of view, and I applaud you and appreciate you students, all of you.”
“You learn from each other. You learn from others,” said Graves.
His discussion transitioned into discussing Islamophobia.“Educate your fellow students with non-Muslim students… An entrenched ignorance [has been] passed, and it’s been socialized,” he said.
Graves said that students “play a crucial role in educating and enlightening your fellow students and faculty and staff about your religion, your culture [and] having that support.” Graves said, “Don’t shy away from taking it and using every opportunity that you have to enlighten, educate, inform about your background.” Graves urged the students that if they have the information and ability to educate their peers to prevent ignorance, they should take the opportunity to do so.
Graves closed out his speech by having the audience once again repeat the speech he gave in the beginning before bidding them goodbye.
Graves’ appearance at the university made way for students to listen to the words of an experienced advocate for social change. Despite being just a speech, Graves impacted the audience by telling them that they all have the power to educate their peers and make positive changes.