GVL / Robert Mathews
GVSU students at the Rally Against Injustice.

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews GVSU students at the Rally Against Injustice.

Lizzy Balboa

About 50 Grand Valley State University students participated in a “Rally Against Injustice” Thursday evening to honor the people who have fallen victim to injustice in the U.S. and protest further acts of inequity.

“The motto of today’s rally is, and I quote, ‘An injustice to one is an injustice to all,’” said senior Kayla Jones, president of the GVSU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Jones said the rally, which had a multi-racial attendance, was held to show that injustice is not a race issue, but an issue of humanity.

“We’re all ethnicities [and] races so it’s just to show that we came together to talk about injustice because it happens to all of our communities, not [just] black, white, Asian,” she said. “Often times our generation focuses on the surface level issues of skin color and race, but we are here to indicate that injustices transpire to all ages, races and genders.”

Cecil Johnson, president of the Black Student Union, added that flaws in the American judicial system have allowed injustice to continue.

“The Trayvon Martin case has opened the eyes of all cultures, races and nationalities to the fact that the judicial system continues to fail to protect its people,” Johnson said.

During the rally, students from the sponsoring organizations held posters bearing the faces of Martin, Emmett Till, Troy Davis, Caylee Anthony and others who, the demonstrators said, have been failed by the American justice system.

The posters read, “I am Emmett Till,” “I am Troy Davis,” and so on, to indicate the students’ identification with the victims of injustice.

Leaders of the rally also issued a petition for students to sign for the prosecution of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin.

“Were not saying that Zimmerman is guilty or innocent or anything,” Jones said. “We’re just saying that due process is a right to all citizens no matter what you look like or how old you are. We want everyone to enjoy their rights and we want our government to protect our rights. So if someone is shot or killed or maimed or a hate crime happens, we want them to just to ‘due process’ their case and not to essentially sweep it under the rug. I feel like a lot of times that’s what happens with these case, so the issues go unheard.”

The rally culminated with two keynote speakers, including Rik Stevenson, who discussed other successful student movements in American history to inspire GVSU students to act against injustice.

“U.S. students stand as a legacy, and you stand on the shoulders of other students who have seen the role and the impact they can have on social change,” Stevenson said. “As you stand here today you must be reminded that you’re not here just to get a better job, but to get an education so that you can participate in social change. You and I have a responsibility to take the education that we have and to challenge the systems that are just and unjust.”

Stevenson stressed that the actions of the GVSU students are not unprecedented.

“So as we stand here today, I want you to think about the fact that as a student population you have a connection, a baton has been passed to you from other students who have changed the world in which we live,” he said.

Professor Louis Moore followed with suggestions for ending injustice.

“So how do we start a movement to cure this disease, to eradicate this illness before it affects us?” Moore asked the students. “We can’t fight this by raising funds … the only way we stamp out the illness is through ourselves. We need to reopen this dialogue about race, class and gender like we’re doing today, and we need to put everything on the table.”

The rally, which took place at the Transformational Link, was sponsored by the BSU, Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, the NAACP, Associates of Business Communication, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Black Leaders Aspiring For Critical Knowledge and You Beautiful Black Woman.

“The fight’s not over,” Stevenson said. “You have the ability and the responsibility to change the world in which you live.”

[email protected]