Photo Credit: Kat Khoury
Several hundred students, professors and community members gathered on Friday at 11:45 a.m.—the same moment that President Donald Trump was inaugurated—to voice opposition to the incoming administration. “Walk Out” protestors met in groups at the main library on the University of Georgia's North Campus and the ROTC building on south campus. Two parades of black-clad marchers then made their way to the rendezvous point at Tate Plaza.
Real Food & Amnesty, the Lambda Alliance, the Women's Studies Student Organization, the UGA National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Undocumented Student Alliance, Students for Justice in Palestine and Athens for Everyone had representatives speak to a crowd that continued to grow. The black clothes of the marchers eventually mingled with the plainclothes passersby who were drawn to stay, some out of solidarity, some out of curiosity.
“We were hoping for a good turnout; this is an amazing turnout,” said Adwoa Agyepong, co-president of Amnesty International at UGA.
Professors showed up too, though the handful Flagpole was able to identify and speak with were too fearful to have their names printed. “Given our position as not being tenured… not that I don’t have anything to say, I have a lot of things to say,” said one professor.
Among those who took the stage to speak was Mansur Buffins, president of the UGA NAACP. “I think that with today being… I like to say a dark day in American history, it’s important that we as individuals, as members of the UGA community, the Athens community, as members of the American community, we continue to be vigilant, we continue to resist, and we continue to do the work that needs to be done to ensure that we do, at the end of the day, have an inclusive community where all identities, whether they be black, white, member of the LGBTQ community, disabled and abled, all these identities are recognized.”
Action is a key component of many protests opposing the new presidential administration, and Megan Westbrook, a member of Athens for Everyone and one of the outreach members for the rally, urged the crowd to participate, giving three ways to protect UGA’s community from any discriminatory policies that may occur in the near future: through putting pen to paper, emailing the top dog himself and banding together.
Two hundred and thirty signatures were gathered at the marches and rally alone, and from the stage Westbrook prodded onlookers to go online to add their names to the petition, which demands that President Jere Morehead “protect its [sic] students, faculty and staff from discriminatory national and state policies in the immediate and long-term future.”
“We want to hold UGA accountable to their own words,” said Mike Olsen of the linguistics department. “This is their own statement on equal opportunity and discrimination, and we’re encouraging students, faculty, whomever, to take action not only if they see discrimination but to be heard and email president Morehead demanding basically the same statement, that UGA protect it’s people.”
Pressure was also put on the crowd to find an organization fighting for the rights of those facing discrimination and join the cause, either on or off campus.
Urging people to send the same statement as on the petition to Morehead, Westbrook said “I would love to see two, three hundred emails flood his [President Morehead's] inbox. More. Just flood it.”