American University Student Government hosted Rev. Wendy Hamilton in a discussion covering the significance of Black History Month, what it means to be a Black woman in politics and voting rights.
SG invited Hamilton to speak in the Founders Room at the School of International Service on Monday night.
Hamilton is an ordained minister, a truancy counselor for D.C. public schools, social justice advocate and grassroots candidate running to represent D.C. for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022.
The discussion started with Hamilton expressing her dedication to D.C. as she explained how the trajectory of her life had been shaped through living in D.C. as a former student at Howard University.
Through her experience as a truancy counselor in the D.C. public school system, Hamilton addressed the lack of education on Black History Month and in teaching children Black history in the U.S.
“[Black history] is not being taught to make white children feel bad, it’s taught to make Black children feel proud,” Hamilton said.
During the discussion, Hamilton talked about embracing her identity, mentioned the struggles of being challenged as a Black woman in politics, but emphasized that “no one can take away what you know” about yourself.
“‘Be the change you want to be’ is not just a slogan. It’s a call to action,” Hamilton said in an interview with The Eagle after the event.
She encouraged AU students to not be afraid to take leadership or influential roles and to step outside of the campus to engage with the D.C. community.
“Don’t just complain, don’t just talk about it — be about it,” Hamilton said.
SG President Chyna Brodie, who moderated the event, said the planning of this discussion was progress in the making for months.
“We finally got the green light, and I’m so glad we were able to invite Reverend Hamilton to speak at AU,” Brodie told The Eagle.
“Because AU is such a liberal and politically active school, I think that Reverend Wendy Hamilton’s points are ones we need to think about and embrace,” Brodie said.
Stephen Baker, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, was among the attendees at the discussion.
“I thought her words were so powerful, and as a SPA student, a lot of what she said resonates with me – she’s phenomenal,” Baker said.
The discussion ended with a call to students to go to the polls and vote, citing the historical lack of follow-through from young voters at the polls.
“I’m not a politician, I’m a regular chick, you know?” Hamilton said. “I’m a mother, a grandmother … I’m you.”