Following President-elect Donald Trump’s upset win last week, the University of Michigan campus has been filled with protests, vigils and rallies. However, on Thursday night, the Diag was host to an hour of rest as the musical group Love and Peace, affiliated with a new movement on campus by the same name, played a variety of blues and reggae songs promoting inclusion and equity.
Peace and Love began its performance in front of Hatcher Graduate Library with a slow, keyboard-heavy and lyrical tribute to peace during tense times. Lead singer Christopher McClendon, a Business senior, said to the audience of nearly 50 students that they were there to remind University students that cohesion in the campus community was still possible amid a political firestorm.
“If we just take a little time to love one another, there is power to break every chain of violence that exists in this country,” McClendon said. “It’s time to unite under one concept of love. Clap your hands and show that we are united.”
As students began dancing around the block ‘M,’ LSA junior Kendall Lindsey said he came to watch the performance to support its mission, but wished it could spark tangible change at the University.
“In the wake of everything that’s happened, all of the hate right now on campus, it’s good to see the love spinning around,” Lindsey said. “But that’s not the end of it — it’s not just about peace and love. There need to be actual services implemented to make sure every student here feels welcome, feels like they matter.”
LSA juniors KeeAna Lane and Sydny Rivers said they attended the performance looking for a positive end to a taxing week at the University.
“The vibe here has been intense, but I can’t let it get to me,” Lane said. “I didn’t expect the singing. I didn’t know what to expect. But it’s a positive thing, and if anything is needed right now, this is it.”
Rivers echoed Lane’s sentiments, adding that events like this one had the potential to change minds in a positive way.
“Election week had a deep effect on me,” Rivers said. “But maybe it’s time to push on and work together, and maybe this is the beginning.”
As McClendon sang Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” to a gathering crowd of students, Public Policy junior Nadine Jawad, co-founder of the Peace and Love movement and a senior policy adviser to Central Student Government, addressed the crowd.
Jawad said she wanted to magnify the voices of people who feel systematically oppressed amid prevailing political and racial tensions in the United States.
“My message is about retaliation,” Jawad said. “In the last week, we’ve all been pushed and tried in ways that are unimaginable. But when we fight back with love and peace, instead of anger and frustration, we send a message. I could spend five minutes talking about how an Uber driver cussed me out last week, but instead we’re going to focus on us. Because the people on the Diag right now can all work to ensure that tomorrow is better than today and two days from now are better than tomorrow.”
She told the crowd that the shock of increasingly angry and discriminatory rhetoric on campus following Trump’s election inspired the creation of an all-inclusive movement.
“We believe that people have a right to be angry and they have a right to be scared,” Jawad continued. “But we want to counteract all of that because if we come together as a community it can rise us up. It’s been a really frustrating week. My Uber driver cussed at me when I dropped a food crumb in his car. I told him, ‘Thank you and have a nice day,’ and that’s the model of our movement.”
McClendon reminded the group that love and peace can prevail as long as they allow it to.
“I don’t care what weapon may fall against me,” McClendon said. “I will prosper because I believe in peace. I love that hijab Nadine wears. I love the timbs on my feet and my nappy hair. I love all of you, whether you’re black or white or blue or green or yellow or anything in between.”