By Mike Ferraro
POUGHKEEPSIE – Marist students marched against racial injustice on Wednesday. The event was created by Marist’s Black Student-Athlete Alliance (BSAA) and Black Student Union (BSU), and drew approximately 700 participants on a day with intermittent showers.
“I think it was an amazing turnout,” BSU Co-President Khmari Awai said. “We did it because our lives do matter. … People came out and chanted, they had their posters, they walked, they did everything, and it was great. Hopefully there will be more to come.”
The idea of putting a march together was first thought of by BSAA just six days ago. It came to life through collaboration with BSU at the grassroots level. This was followed by numerous meetings across the Marist community earlier this week to establish logistics and ensure safety for all involved.
“To see that we had a community there for us that no matter rain, shine, anything, they were going to march for what was right and what was important is what made it so special,” BSAA Co-President Trinasia Kennedy said. “We have each other, but to know that there are other people in the student body who feel the same way that we do about the issues, and even if they don’t, feel like something needs still to change, made this march so much more than what we could have hoped for. Especially on short notice, we had a lot of good people come out with their signs and their support.”
Students began to gather at Tenney Stadium around 11:30 a.m., and organized in socially-distanced groups no more than 50 to be in compliance with COVID-19 regulations. Most participants wore black attire, and some brought homemade signs posted on cardboard.
As students continued to trickle into Tenney Stadium, a compilation of speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. played over the public address system. At 11:59 a.m., Marist Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement Peaches Brown, who serves as BSAA advisor, gave the first of several speeches to the attendees. More speeches followed from the leadership groups of BSAA, BSU, and the Marist Athletics Department’s IDEA Committee.
Due to COVID-19 regulations, the groups began their marches every five minutes in order to generate space. All participants wore masks.
“Anything that has to do with social justice, Marist is definitely behind us,” BSAA Secretary Chris Watkins, a freshman, said. “That’s big for me because this where I plan on going for the next 4-5 years of my life, so I’m glad they’re behind us and we have a great support system here.”
After departing the stadium, the participants exited campus through the south gate onto Route 9, and proceeded northbound until reaching the College’s north entrance. Each group then marched through campus until reaching an area near the James A. Cannavino Library, overlooking the campus green. Members of the BSAA and BSU thanked those who attended after the last group passed through, with the event concluding shortly before 1 p.m.
“It came together very quickly,” Associate AD, Director of External Affairs, and Chief Diversity Officer for Athletics Harrison Baker said. “I’m so proud of all the administration, all the BSAA members, and all the BSU members. Everyone had their input, and everyone had good ideas. It was truly special to see.”