Chants and songs echoed across the MU campus as a large group of marginalized students and allies walked from the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center to Lucile Bluford Hall.
The Solidarity Walk was a collaborative effort between the Legion of Black Collegians and Four Front Marginalized Student Council. Students, faculty and alumni gathered to support one another, including Chancellor Alexander Cartwright.
The main goal of the walk, which attracted more than 60 people, was to unite campus minority groups and connect with others who might have similar experiences.
“All oppression is connected,” Jordan Look, the Legion's political chair, said. “If we unify around that connection despite the differences in our oppression, we can attack the oppression.”
It's important that all students feel they have a place on campus and a support system, Look said.
The Four Front Marginalized Student Council represents more than 10 student organizations. Members of many of these groups attended, including the Asian American Association, the Triangle Coalition and Four Directions.
Marginalized students and their organizations have long been excluded from MU Homecoming traditions. The Solidarity Walk is one of multiple events the Legion of Black Collegians hosts on Homecoming week to ensure students have a space to celebrate and create networks with alumni.
One of the largest events the Legion hosts is the Black Family Reunion Tailgate, which is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. at the Black Culture Center. Legion board members extended sentiments of open arms and invitations to all walk attendees, regardless of race.
“I want to support our triumphs together,” Look said through a megaphone, followed by clamorous applause. Look envisioned the event as a celebration, not as a protest.
Although many of the students battle oppression on campus year round, Homecoming has been notoriously exclusive. Ayesha Vishnani, a co-chair of Four Front, assisted in leading chants while the group moved past Greek houses assembling Homecoming decorations.
“Other people don’t have our backs, so we can have each others,” Vishnani said as the group formed a circle at Traditions Plaza.
Students such as Brody Butler found the event “powerful.” As a member of the queer community, Butler understands the importance of linking arms with other marginalized communities to ignite change.
“People of color have been the backbone of the gay rights movement, for instance,” Butler said.
Organizers led various chants that involved responses. "We say none of us are free until?"
"All of us are free," the moving crowd responded in synch.
Former Legion Political Chair Autumn Henderson Carson created the Solidarity Walk last year and hopes it continues.
“This is not going to be the last Solidarity Walk,” Carson said.
The walk concluded at a ceremony dedicating Bluford Residence Hall, which was named for Lucile Bluford. She covered civil rights for The Kansas City Call newspaper in the 1930s. Despite her merits in journalism, MU withdrew her admission to the university based on her race. She was denied admission 11 times.
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