Speak and Rally
Written by Bwog Staff
Organizers have wasted no time organizing a response to yesterday’s noose. Last night’s protest was followed by an early afternoon rally today, on the steps of Teacher’s College.
With a variety of signs and speakers, it seemed the event’s main purpose was to demonstrate a swift and strong response. By the time the event kicked off at 2 pm, a good-sized crowd had gathered, stretching as far into the street as the police barrier would allow. Others watched from campus across the street, and a tour bus even rolled by for the photo op.
The proceeding moved rather quickly, although at times it suffered from microphone failure, leaving some speakers to be drowned out in the loud crowd. Audible orators included N.Y. State Senator Bill Perkins, Madonna Constantine herself, and
(Bwog believes) Reverend Calvin Butts of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. a loud-spoken individual named Calvin.
Perkins took the event as a sign of racism’s pervasiveness even in today’s society, comparing Columbia University today to Columbia, South Carolina in the 1800s. Although he did not condemn Columbia, he said the threat “sounds like an inside job,” noting Columbia’s “very serious security.” Constantine directly addressed the perpetrators, saying “hanging the noose on my door reeks of cowardice,” praised the security and police forces for their responses, and added that she was proud to be a part of Teacher’s College (but no mention of Columbia). <br>
After a student said an impromptu prayer, another speaker led an impromptu chant: “No justice, no peace!” The speech was not about the noose but rather about Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer voting for Columbia’s expansion plan. He warned against trusting the words of politicians who “say things because they have to.” “I can say what I want,” he said, launching into another rousing round of militancy.
The chant was immediately followed by the rally’s leaders asking members to peacefully march around the streets. Holding signs ranging from “intolerance is intolerable,” and “we all live in Jena”, to the very policy-oriented “support anti-racism education,” to the 1960s-style “where’s the love?,” the group looped around Teacher’s College and then headed for main campus before returning home for a 3:30 town hall meeting. The peace
was kept. Police looked bored.
Including “no justice, no peace,” the rally and march had at least eight distinct chants, including the following:
“What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
“United we stand!”
“Ain’t no power like the power of the people cuz the power of the people don’t stop”
“The people, united, cannot be defeated.”
“No more nooses”
“Not on our campus”
and to expand on that one:
“Not here, not anywhere”
Also, if you go to Columbia you probably already got this, but here’s the latest Bollinger statement, in which he clarifies that TC and CU are “two separate institutions.”
As most of you now know, a terrible incident of bias occurred at
Teachers College yesterday, directed at a member of the faculty.
Teachers College is a cherished affiliate of Columbia University
with its own president, Susan Fuhrman, to whom I have offered our
support and assistance. We may be two independent institutions, but
we are one community; and we stand together in our commitment to
oppose the frightening sentiments that lay behind this act.
Tolerance and mutual respect are among the core values of our
diverse community, and all of us must confront acts of hate
whenever they occur within it. As I said last night, an attack on
the dignity of any member of our community is an assault on all of
I will be meeting with student leaders this afternoon, and other
members of the administration will be communicating with faculty
and students in the coming days. Our mission as a university
includes addressing the most important and searing issues of our
time, and we have a particular obligation to respond forcefully to
events that affront our values.
Lee C. Bollinger