“What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!”
On Wednesday afternoon, dozens of determined students walked across campus chanting in support of spreading peace at Penn State’s first International Day of Peace March.
The marchers gathered at the HUB-Robeson Center and proceeded to march past the Palmer Museum of Art, the Pattee-Paterno Library and down the Pattee mall before concluding the march at Old Main Lawn.
The participants held signs they made, some of which read “black lives matter,” “silence is the world’s worst injustice” and “give peace a chance.” Other signs showed the faces of people who had lost their lives in recent history, such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, among others who have lost their lives not only to police related incidents, but gang violence and suicide as well.
Speakers included representatives from the Muslim Students’ Association, 3rd Way Collective, Social Justice Coalition and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. The speakers were chosen to be inclusive to all identities, Brian Davis, president of Social Justice Organization, said.
“We have to be the change we want to see,” Davis (junior-sociology, criminology, and African American studies) said.
Davis describes himself as an activist and said Penn State is not diverse, but he wants to address diversity inclusion. He said everyone has to play a part.
“Today I am not at peace,” Davis said in regards to a black man that was killed by a police officer.
Director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, Carlos Wiley, focused on the message of freedom. He said people want the freedom to not worry about their safety when a cop pulls them over, go to a nightclub or when child plays with a fake gun.
“All oppressed people want freedom,” Wiley said, “And full freedom.”
Cameron Yencsik (junior-psychology) represented the LGBTQA Student Resource Center, walked with rainbow flags draped over his shoulders resembling a cape. Yencsik said he wants to raise awareness of how people can coexist peacefully.
Amanda Goldberg, president of 3rd Way Collective, encouraged participants to create peace within themselves and ended her speech with a sense of optimism.
“Everything will be okay,” Goldberg said. “Repeat after me. Everything will be ok.”
Brandon Sullivan, an officer in 3rd Way Collective, said he wants to see people take a stance because we are not isolated from the problems in the world.
“I’ve always wondered how I can make a difference,” Sullivan (sophomore-political science and community economic development) said.
Sullivan said he organized and executed the vigil following the suicide bombings and shootings which occurred in Paris last November.
Although Christopher Baker did not partake in the march with the other participants, he said he was intrigued by their movement and began to follow the marchers and engaging with Zico Khayat.
“I want other students to know that despite differences people have, we can still come together,” Baker (senior-political science) said via email. “I was able to have a cordial conversation with a student who hold political beliefs vastly dissimilar to my own. I can also call him my friend. Isn’t this what college is all about?”