Images by Chris Faraone
Tonight, activists and students parked a fist in Harvard Yard, as more than 1,000 protesters marched into the heart of highbrow Cambridge in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that has galvanized America since the failure of grand juries in Missouri and New York to indict cops who have killed. From their public announcement:
On Friday afternoon, Harvard University students will rally in Harvard Yard to show their support to the grassroots, youth-led movement that started in Ferguson, MO and has spread to the entire country – a movement that objects to racist laws, violent police tactics, and systemic inequality.
There have been several marches and walk-outs at Harvard and around Cambridge in the past month. This one, however, is something of a culmination, a family affair. In their words …
Student protesters are not only from the Harvard College, but also from the Graduate schools of Law, Design, Divinity, Government, Education, Business, Public Health, Medicine, and Arts & Sciences. Student organizer Victoria White-Mason notes “there is an integral role for each of our disciplines to play in social movements—not only to work alongside organizers and activists, but also to use our skills to create a just system.”
Starting just before 5pm, students and professors met at their respective schools and buildings, and marched toward the Harvard Science Center, on the edge of Harvard Yard. An intense moment of silence for victims of police brutality and other untold atrocities gave way to emotion, positivity, and frustration, all together, with messages bouncing off the Ivy League and echoing toward the real world.
The action was poetic, with cries for justice ringing loudly. “Run until your Harvard bubble bursts and you can’t breathe,” one speaker suggested. Another student spun a brilliant line reflecting on a Harvard protest in the same vein held last night, when a group of interrupting meatheads ran through campus in the buff. “Harvard, last night we saw you naked,” she said. “We saw you chanting, ‘Black Lives Matter’ as you turned and ran away from race.”*
Before walking through Harvard Yard and its outlining square, speakers covered several angles and examples of the issue; at one point, a Harvard student who grew up organizing in her native New York noted the tragic slaughter of Amadou Diallo, whose killing 15 years ago by cops in The Bronx spurred similar sentiments.
As helicopters circled overhead, students of color spoke about continuing the fight against institutional racism, and shared deep, personal stories about pains they’ve endured, as the stunted maturation of race relations in America has surfaced as a front-and-center issue from California to Cambridge.
The Harvard population is prone to protest; in the past few weeks alone, demonstrators have rallied over labor issues, and have continued putting pressure on administrators to pull millions of investment dollars out of fossil fuel interests and other polluters.
Finally, tonight’s rally, which is still underway at the time of this writing, probably won’t come close to making as much news as other recent events at the most storied college in America. Nonetheless, people are out there, well over a thousand of them, and we have the pictures to prove it.
*-We apologize for not having the names of these students at the moment, but things were happening rather fast, and it was hard to find individuals in the rally. We have, however, reached out to organizers and asked if we can publish some of the words spoken tonight. Stay tuned …
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A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.