“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Last Friday at 11:45 a.m., 500 students stood together in silence and held hands as symbol of unity. The leading days to that Friday were terrifying for students at Hope College. After the presidential election on Tuesday night, students throughout campus were harassed both physically and verbally. Students were spat on by their fellow classmates, chased by their peers and threatened with deportation. Many students didn’t share their interactions with their peers in fear that even their close friends would not understand their current struggles.
However, in the midst of the fear being spread throughout campus, students united to make a change. Coming from different backgrounds, they all met in the Multicultural Lounge in Martha Miller and shared with their fellow peers to express their experiences throughout the day.
Students that never interacted with one another shared their stories and cried among themselves as they shared each other’s pain. They reached out to director and assistant director of Multicultural Education, Vanessa Greene and Ernesto Villareal, confiding in them for help.
Later that day, two juniors sat with their group of friends and chatted about what could happen to unite everyone in this time of need. Daisy Grace (’17) thought of the idea of starting a peaceful movement for change. She wanted to create a space where everyone would feel welcome enough to proudly show their culture on campus and stand for change. Anyone who wanted to join could wear clothing that represented their culture or they could wear black in solidarity. It was a simple idea that was just discussed in the moment, but Grace and Josh Nkonge (’18) reached out to their friends and faculty and made it happen.
On Friday, they brought 500 people out to stand with them in unity. They stood in silence and held hands. Nothing had to be said, but everyone there knew they were standing for the unison for the students of Hope. They stood there for everyone who wanted to stand with them, whether they agreed or not. Everyone stood with open arms to people of every background to celebrate the difference within their own community and to show the respect they have for other’s opinions.
Everyone is allowed to have their own views and opinions, but they should not make people feel less than what they are. Everyone is human and has the same rights that no one should be able to take away. So, we stand together as one group, one community, one school.