Struggle for Civil Rights Across the Globe

On Wednesday, January 21, in the Africana, Latin American, Asian American, and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center, a brown bag event titled “Fighting for Your Rights: Civil Rights Movement Across the World” took place in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Week. The event featured four speakers sharing personal experiences and reflections on civil rights movements going on in different countries.

Senior Lecturer from the Romance Language department Mahadevi Ramakrishnan, Director of Residential Programs Kerra Hunter and Dason Carmichael from the Office of International Student Services (OISS) organized the event. The panel featured German Language Intern Maxi Albrecht and sophomores Ali Kadhem and Antoinette Nwabunnia.

In an open and casual environment, the panel members voiced their opinions on the civil rights movements of their own native countries or the native countries of their parents. The speakers made it clear to those in attendance that their purpose was not to offend any specific cultures. The sole purpose of the event was to raise awareness of what is going on within the countries being discussed.

Albrecht voiced her thoughts on the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), an anti-immigration and anti-Islamic movement currently ongoing in Germany. She articulated the issues in Germany and did not hesitate to share her own personal experiences.

Kadhem spoke after Albrecht, sharing his thoughts on the political and social issues present in his native Bahrain. Incorporating personal experience into his speech, Kadhem  allowed those present to visualize and relate to his experience.

Nwabunnia voiced her thoughts on the history of Nigeria and the clashes between different people within Nigeria. Going beyond just addressing internal conflicts, she shared her opinions on how Nigeria can unify and develop as one community within the nation.

During the question and answer session following the event, a faculty member asked which generation led the protest in each of the countries. Despite the varying age of protesters, most action is taken by the younger generations.

Student reactions to the event were positive. 

“Well, I think it’s great and probably healthy to have a kind of a collective catharsis every once in a while,” first year Rahil Uppal said.

Sophomore Gian Sepulveda compared this year’s panel to a previous panel that she went to the year before.

“It was more informative than last year’s. But it was good in the sense that we got to hear a personal account [on the movements] as well,” Sepulveda said.