Louder Than Words
Updated: Jul 2
Marching at the Black Lives Matter rally in Corning on June 6, students raise their voices to fight for racial justice Reporting by Elyza Greene and Sam Ward; editing by Kaitlin Chung
In the last three weeks, hundreds of protests erupted from Seattle to Washington D.C. to Los Angeles in response to the death of unarmed Minneapolis resident George Floyd on May 25. Floyd, a Black man, was detained by the Minneapolis Police Department under suspicion of using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes. In a cell phone video circulated widely on social media, former MPD officer Derek Chauvin was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes; Floyd lost consciousness at the scene and was declared dead shortly later.
Determined to show their support for Black citizens and take their stand for racial justice in law enforcement, crowds of peaceful protestors gathered outside of Corning City Hall on June 6 with signs to join the nationwide cry. This march was one of many in the area organized by the Elmira chapter of Black Lives Matter during the week of June 1. Many participants in Corning were students looking to raise awareness of racial inequality in their own schools and communities.
For senior Saege Holleran, participating in the march was a way to clarify a common misconception about the Black Lives Matter campaign and show its true purpose. “I decided I wanted to be there as soon as I realized that it was an organized event, and that I could do something to make a difference,” Holleran said. “After today, I hope more people realize that we’re not saying down with America, we’re saying down with the system it was founded on. Ultimately, that’s why racism is so systematically engrained, because our first economy was based on slavery and the mistreatment of black people.”
On the other hand, junior Ariana Haskins marched with the hope of encouraging her fellow students to speak up. “I wanted to teach people in this small town that even if it isn’t as intense here, that black lives do matter, and that we have a voice that we deserve to use. To everyone in this community, come out and protest. Even if you think you don’t have a voice, you can still protest, because your words can make a positive change to what people believe,” Haskins said.
As a tribute to George Floyd, protesters across the world have echoed some of his last words, “I can’t breathe,” on social media and in the news. Junior Nicholas Jubilee took up the cry in his sign: “No Justice. No Peace. I can’t breathe.” The Black Lives Matter movement holds a special personal significance to Jubilee, and he marched to contribute to change he views as long overdue. “I’m out here today because I’m really just sick and tired of all this. I’m super fed up because this has been going on for too long,” Jubilee said. “I think that change has to happen in order for things to move on in this country. It’s just annoying knowing that I could die one day for doing nothing except for being black.”
While she chanted with the few hundred people gathered outside city hall, freshman Ava Brucie realized the importance of choosing her words carefully in her daily life. “Even if you’re joking around, you still shouldn’t be using discriminatory language because it’s disrespectful to people of color and people with different kinds of disabilities,” Brucie said. “I really hope that more people will just be treated equally instead of being judged by the color of their skin. We need to remember that even if we look different, we’re all human.”