Written for The Argo by Samirah Sartor
Students and teachers from Stockton University took to the streets in Atlantic City on Sunday to celebrate Black History Month and rally for justice.
The Student Senate of Stockton University hosted its second Black History Month march and rally with the theme “Continuing the Movement for Social Justice.” The Student Senate structured the event to reflect on how African Americans have advocated and fought for equal rights throughout American history, and how to learn how to advance the causes of equality today.
A group of about two dozen people gathered at the Fannie Lou Hamer Event Room at the John F. Scarpa Academic Center to hear speeches from faculty and student leaders. They proceeded to march while chanting to the Boardwalk from the Scarpa Center.
“No justice, no peace,” the group chanted during the march.
The ceremony began with a rendition of the Black national anthem, known as “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Student Senator Alicia Jenkins and her sister Alexis Jenkins sang while Stockton music professor Beverly Vaughn played piano.
Student Senate Vice President Irenosen Eigbe delivered the rally’s opening remarks. Draped in a Nigerian flag, Eigbe said the event exhibited the power of students to send a message and effect change when they unite for a common purpose. She also praised for creating a diverse and inclusive committee.
“It is an honor to be one of the organizers for this event that showcases the activism that Stockton Students are capable of when they come together for a cause they believe in,” Eigbe said. “With all that has happened in past years, we as senators, students and humans feel it is necessary to commemorate Black History Month in a celebratory way that shows homage to its origins.”
Eigbe’s speech was followed by several administrators, faculty, and students. Christopher Catching, the Stockton Vice President for Student Affairs, said the student enthusiasm displayed was critical to promoting justice in universities and beyond. He referenced the impending creation of the Stockton Multicultural Center as evidence of the power of student activism – but also emphasized that there is more that needs to be done.
“We have a lot of work to do, and what’s encouraging about being on a university campus is that we’re at the epicenter of where a lot of this work has continued to happen,” Catching said.
Stockton has recently expanded its efforts in supporting Black culture and history. In 2019, the university began offering a bachelor’s degree in African American studies. Stockton also supports the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, which travels to elementary, middle, and high schools to show students Black history exhibits.
Closing remarks were given by Joshua Hunte, the Diversity and Inclusion Chairperson for the Student Senate. He encouraged his fellow students to carry on the movement for equality and justice for more than just Black History Month.
“All I know is that we have to continue to reignite the passion in people, ignite the passion in other people, continue to plant the seeds and continue to water the seeds,” Hunte said.