Student Government and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center hosted a rally on the steps of Mary Graydon Center Friday in response to the hanging of Confederate flag posters across American University's campus on Sept. 26.
Several people spoke to the crowd gathered outside MGC including Baltimore poet Kondwani Fidel, University Chaplain Mark Schaefer, the center’s founder Ibram X. Kendi and SG President Taylor Dumpson, among others.
“The purpose of this rally, Enough is Enough, is to send a strong message to those who seek to inflict acts of harm and terror on our campus and in our community,” Dumpson said to kick off the rally.
She later called for change by prompting everyone to partake in small acts of kindness and to engage with those “who do not look like you.” Before introducing the next speaker, Dumpson asked everyone to chant with her “enough is enough.”
Schaefer read a piece from the pastoral letter he released earlier in the week.
“These acts were perpetrated against American University precisely because we are a community that stands against racism, injustice, and bigotry,” Schaefer said. “But the very reason we were targeted is the very reason that we will prevail in that task.”
Schaefer concluded his remarks with a prayer for the community to heal and move forward. Fidel spoke next, presenting a spoken word piece about the issues surrounding race in the U.S. today. One of his lines read, “You can murder a freedom fighter, can’t murder the freedom fighting.”
“Keep fighting against terrorism, keep fighting against racism, because one day it is going to pay off,” Fidel added in his closing remarks.
Kendi said he was overjoyed by the crowd that gathered for the rally. He pointed to history and the fight of oppressed black individuals over time and went on to address the flag posters and the “violence” they have perpetuated over time.
“These symbols, these types of acts are trying to get you and I to be scared,” Kendi said. “They are trying to get you and I to think twice when we wake up in the morning, to slow us down.”
Kendi said that he has “been smiling” in the days following the attacks “because we are winning” by fighting back, building the antiracist center and building a better university.
“They picked the wrong person,” Kendi said.
In addition to Schaefer, other religious leaders spoke at the rally, including assistant director of AU Hillel Mollie Feldman and Imam-ad-Dean Ahmad, AU’s Muslim chaplain. Ahmad was one of the last speakers and noted the crowd’s lack of fear.
“I’ve got a secret to tell you, I don’t feel afraid and you don’t look afraid,” he said. “I have a suspicion that the perpetrator is afraid.”
Dumpson concluded the event with a final “enough is enough” chant and a moment of silence for people resisting oppression and racism. During the moment of silence, Dumpson kneeled and raised a fist after a week in which athletes protested racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.
Sade Tuckett, a graduate student in the School of International Service, felt she had a responsibility to be at the rally.
“Personally it just means standing in solidarity, even if I’m here for a fleeting moment, and
being responsible for knowing what’s going on on my campus,” Tuckett told The Eagle. “Considering that it’s my first time dealing with it as well, I’d like to be out here in support.”