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UNH Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Karina Krul

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On April 4, the 48th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the University of New Haven’s faculty and students joined together for a peaceful demonstration to honor and remember Dr. King and his work. The demonstration ran from 4 p.m. to about 5:15 p.m. and included a walk through campus, a die-in, and a debrief session.

The event was headed by psychology graduate student Celina Whitmore. When asked why she organized the event, she said “I think it is important to have this event, and events like this, on our campus to allow UNH to be a place where ideas can be formulated and exchanged in an inclusive and safe environment.”

Aside from UNH, 16 universities across the nation participated in the peaceful demonstration in a joint effort to speak out against social injustice. The event was open to all students, faculty, and staff, although it was lead mainly by graduate students in psychology.
Despite the freezing rain, the demonstration began with a silent walk through campus.

“The ice/snow storm did not stop members of the UNH community from marching across campus peacefully protesting against the mental health crisis going on across the country in minority communities,” said Whitmore.

Dean Johnson agreed. “Despite the weather, it was a quiet, peaceful walk through campus.” Many students and faculty held signs to bring attention to the injustice in the prison system, as well as social injustice as a whole. Students and faculty members, who did not have signs, held a clenched fist in the air as a sign of unity.

“The atmosphere felt warm and hopeful. There was a sense of togetherness,” said psychology professor Nicole Weiss.

After the march, the group moved into the Beckerman Recreation Center for a die-in that lasted about fifteen minutes. Students who participated laid down on the floor of the recreation center, remaining motionless and silent. It was an incredibly powerful message, getting the message across to the campus community that prejudice is a real issue that needs to be addressed as a group effort on every level.

Dean Johnson commented on the atmosphere of the event. “I thought it was very peaceful and somber.”

There were organizers handing out flyers and explaining the demonstration to any student or faculty member who walked by and did not understand. Following the die-in, the demonstration came to a close with a debriefing session where participants were made aware of many resources on the campus and in the community.

The demonstration was very successful, shining light on important issues as well as stressing the need for all individuals in a community to unite under the cause.

“Many people report feeling powerless in the face of injustice, however, change never occurs without some form of action or confrontation. Events, such as this, give individuals a voice to express their feelings in a positive way and promote self-reflection and discussions about race,” said Weiss.

It is important to open this dialogue on campus so every student can feel included, safe, and protected while they are here.

The event accomplished its goal to “raise awareness that this is an important issue that students, faculty, and staff need to be involved with” said Dean Johnson, continuing to say that “we need to support all of our students.”

The demonstration ran smoothly, and allowed members of the UNH community a peaceful, respectful outlet to speak their thoughts and support an issue that has affected so many people across the nation.

 

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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
UNH Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.