There was only silence as students marched in cold weather from the Central Campus Transit Center to Stockwell Residence Hall.
The march was held to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Rosa Parks Lounge in Stockwell Residence Hall. Students — most of whom are diversity peer educators — sought to honor the civil rights icon during the subdued march.
Once at Stockwell, participants listened to a lecture by Spectrum Center founder Jim Toy and viewed a performance by the Educational Theater Company.
Students arrived at the Central Campus Transit Center clad in matching T-shirts bearing Parks’s mug shot and reading “#RideforRosa.” They then silently marched toward Stockwell Hall with posters with the same words: “Ride for Rosa.”
The Rosa Parks Lounge is one of the many cultural lounges in residence halls, including the Umoja lounge in Alica Lloyd Residence Hall and the César Chávez lounge in Mosher Jordan Residence Hall. The lounges are designed to be safe spaces for students who are underrepresented on campus, according to LSA junior Igra Nasir, a diversity peer educator for Oxford Housing.
At Stockwell, Toy spoke to the audience about his experiences with social inequality and his activism work for civil rights, LGBTQ issues and opposition of the Vietnam War.
“I’ve come to believe that the struggle for any justice connects to all the struggles for all justice—gender justice, race justice, class justice, religious justice, political justice,” Toy said.
Toy said it’s important to continue fighting for justice not just here at the University, but also after graduation.
“This event is continuing the work that Mrs. Park engaged in and the work that Dr. King did,” Toy said. “And it is here and it is now, and it’s up to us to keep this moving.”
Following Toy’s speech, ETC performed a sketch titled “What If,” which questioned what the world would be like without formative leaders like Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
LSA freshman Arielle Hehir, a member of ETC, said the sketch described the ripple effect of change.
“The whole show said how much it’s needed to have one person say ‘I’m going to stand up for this’ because then you have so many other people joining in saying ‘I can stand up with you’ and the more you expand the more voices you have heard, and the more voices you have heard, the more things that can be changed,” Hehir said.
The event was orchestrated by LSA junior Simon Rivers, diversity peer educator for Stockwell. Rivers said the event was a chance for students of all races to gain a better understanding of the nation’s racial history.
“(The event was) important for everyone because it’s a part of history, it’s a part of United States history, and black history is celebrated during February, but it should be celebrated at all times,” River said. “It’s every day. I just want people to recognize that as far as we’ve come, we have even farther to go.”