Umoja Student Group Hosts First Solidarity Day

Oct. 7, 2016 - Jonea Weekley, President of Boston Univeristy's Umoja organzation bows her head during a moment of silence. Umoja held their first Day of Solidarity outside of Marsh Plaza. Photo by Crystal Milner/BU News Service
Written by Rob Carter

Rob Carter
BU News Service

Boston University’s Umoja, unity in Swahili, hosted its first Solidarity Day Thursday at the Marsh Plaza. The event, scheduled to be the first of a monthly series throughout the year, was intended to give students a more constant feeling of support with racial issues, according to event organizers.

Despite a relatively low turnout of nine students for the kickoff event, Umoja president Jonea Weekley underscored how important it was to “remind each other how much support we have here.” At a school where the black community makes up less than five percent of the student body, Weekley said the goal of these Solidarity Days is to remind all students that they can find a community here.

Emphasizing the day was about fostering dialogue and community the student leaders quickly turned the conversation over to the other attendees, looking for “tangible ways” to combat discrimination on campus.

Josh Mosby, a senior computer science major, spoke about the importance of not being silent in the face of ignorance. Citing a recent campus talk by Shaun King, Mosby said “ignorance is not having no information, it is about perpetuating myths.” Mosby said the best way to combat that is to speak up when you hear something ignorant “not to confront them, but to start a discussion.”

Events coordinator Sernah Essien said the group intends to continue holding these meetings on the first Friday of every month. She said having consistent gatherings that were non-reactionary was important for building a community. Weekley built on this sentiment saying that the goal was to have a chance for students to gather, talk, and support each other regularly without it needing to be entirely political.

Organizers said they hoped that future Solidarity Days will reach a larger audience and this first event would help get the word out that the group could be a consistent support system beyond its more reactionary and political role on campus.

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