A grey, drizzly, late summer day was the backdrop for one of the pinnacle moments in Marist College history. 700 protestors participated in the Marist Students March Against Racial Injustice, organized by members of the Marist Black Student-Athlete Alliance (BSAA) and Black Student Union (BSU).
With Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech playing from the speakers in Tenney Stadium, the protestors embarked on a route that took them from Marist’s south entrance, onto Route 9, and back onto the College through the north entrance before concluding at the campus green.
“This march was really important,” said Trinasia Kennedy, a sophomore guard on the women’s basketball team and co-president of the BSAA. “To see that we had the community there with us, no matter rain or shine, that they were going to march for what was right is what made it so special.”
Plans for the march did not materialize until last Thursday. With incidents of social unrest and racial injustice gripping the country on a nightly basis, members of the BSAA wanted to act.
“We had a meeting on Thursday evening to see how everyone was feeling about everything,” said Peaches Brown, Assistant Director of the Center of Student-Athlete Enhancement, an advisor to the alliance. “It allowed them to voice their feelings and then we moved into taking action. It was supposed to be a quick 30-minute meeting, but it lasted for two hours and the march was something the members wanted to do.”
Planning a protest on a college campus is difficult enough as it is, but organizers also had to deal with the strict COVID-influenced policies about large gatherings of people.
“We brought the idea of a march all the way up to Deb DiCaprio (Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs) and Geoff Brackett (Executive Vice President),” said Harrison Baker, Associate Athletic Director, and Director of External Affairs. “Everyone was on board until someone mentioned the 50 person mandate.”
The organizers wondered how they could dodge a potentially lethal blow to their plans. The idea of 50-person pods emerged as the solution.
“We were able to make everything come together very quickly,” said Baker. “I’m proud of everyone, administration and students, that helped make everything work so well.”
The BSAA’s displeasure with Marist’s silence during the events of this summer still lingers, but the members were grateful for the support they received from students and administrators.
“The initial silence during the beginning of all these events was not a good look,” said Arthur Pinckney, a junior linebacker on the football team and co-president of the BSAA. “They dropped the ball but they picked it up today by making sure this event happened and helping enforce social distancing.”
Marist President Dennis Murray attended the march, as did other key administrators like athletic director Tim Murray and executive vice president Deb DiCaprio.
“It was nice to see almost the entire administration at the march,” said Jordan Jones, a fifth-year senior center on the men’s basketball team and BSAA’s director of engagement. “Toward the end, we kind of congregated which made it a special moment.”
The BSAA and Black Student Union are already looking to add more events and create more meaningful discussions around campus. For both groups, it is of the utmost importance that athletes use their platforms to fight for justice in this country. It looks like members of the alliance are well on their way toward doing so.
Edited by David Connelly