Lift Every Voice And Sing: Colgate Celebrates Black Solidarity Day



Colgate celebrated the 35th annual Black Solidarity Day on Monday. Students gathered on the academic quad at noon to take part in the Speak Out, sponsored by African American Student Alliance, Brothers, Sisters of the Round Table (SORT), Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and Caribbean Student Association (CSA). Despite the cold and the wind, a crowd came to listen to speakers on the steps of the chapel. After a moment of silence and the singing of the national black anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the microphone was turned over to students. Senior Alexis Yancey spoke about the importance and relevance of the black community. She talked about the racism and hardships blacks have experienced through the centuries. She also addressed the relationship between blacks and Colgate. “We offer a different perspective in and outside of the classroom,” Young said. Junior Rodney Mason also elaborated on this theme. “Many students come from societies without people from color – we do exist and have a voice,” he said. “It’s important for when people enter the diverse work field.” Mason explained the importance of this day. “Blacks throughout the country abstain from participation in the social, political and economic affairs of the nation,” Mason said.””By their absence, blacks and others peacefully oppose racism, social and civil injustices. This issue is important at Colgate because many times people forget that blacks are intricate in the functioning of Colgate society.We add diversity to the campus, and our existence is important.” Others in attendance shared their experiences at Colgate. “I have this feeling since I set foot on this campus that someone didn’t want me here, as a woman of a lower class background, black and bisexual,” junior Lillian Turner, said. “A speaker who came last year to the Hall of Presidents made it clear he didn’t want me here. Another speaker made it clear that she didn’t want me here. Fellow students and professors make it clear that they don’t think I should be here.” Despite these discouragements, Turner spoke of her determination. “If I choose to be a Colgate student, that is what I choose to do,” she said. “I challenge those who say affirmative action put me here to walk in my shoes, know my history before you think I don’t belong here.” Speaking of the ignorance concerning Africa and the black community, sophomore Lorene Rayton, shared a story about a white student in one of her classes believing Egypt was separate from Africa because of wanting to separate the Arab nation from the rest of the African nations. Rayton also commented on the perception of the Harlem Renaissance Center and her experience with people telling her that they were scared to walk through it. “Like we’re going to rob you?” Rayton said. “We haven’t moved that far from racism.” Talking about the next day’s Presidential election, Wilbert Redmond said, “In the debate both candidates were asked, ‘How would you benefit from the African American community?’ and neither answered directly. If all Americans of color chose not to vote, there would be a landslide for the Republican party. We have a large impact.” The event also included the recitation of several poems. Including “Brothers, brothers everywhere and none of them for sale,” “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Grave” and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Statistics were also shared, indicating the inequalities that still exist but also highlighted the continual progress being made. Students were excited about getting this opportunity to speak their minds. “It’s not hard [to speak in front of an audience like this],” sophomore Makina Perry said. “It’s something I’m used to. It’s exhilarating to get a chance to share.” Sophomore April Williams echoed a similar sentiment. “At other schools, students don’t speak [in class],”she said. “But her you’re only one student; it’s not like a whole class.” Other events for Black Solidarity Day included a march from the Harlem Renaissance Center to the ALANA Cultural Center. A discussion about the various issues blacks face in American society was hosted there.