Students rally in Red Square

By the

April 5, 2001

A coalition of 17 student groups held a protest rally in Red Square Wednesday remembering Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and calling for an end to injustice everywhere.

“We are here to recognize the injustices of the world,” said Maria Moser (CAS ‘04), a co-organizer of the “Demand Justice, Take Action” event.

Moser welcomed the crowd and led off a litany of groups speaking about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in the struggle for social justice.

“It was about bringing people together in a positive way for once,” Mozer said in an interview after the event.

The rally was part of a cross-country Day of Action honoring King’s death at 80 campuses including San Jose University and Michigan State.

Quoting from Marting Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the Koran and Maya Angelou, speakers from each of the sponsoring groups addressed issues including ending the death penalty, bolstering labor rights, ending racial inequality, protecting the environment, increasing freedom of contraceptive choice, and expanding Gay and Lesbian rights.

Although groups promoted issues from the entrenchment of Georgetown’s labor policy to the creation of an African American Studies program, the focus consistently returned to social justice.

“The worst thing you can do is nothing,” Dan Matthews (CAS ‘04) of GU Pride said at the rally.

Rev. Darby Tillis’ opening speech anchored the event and demanded the end of the death penalty. “The death penalty is racist, biased and prejudiced,” Tillis said.

Tillis was convicted and imprisoned on death row for an armed robbery and a double murder in Illinois until he was released in 1987.

“We were used to send a message that black on white violence would not be tolerated … I spent five years, one month and 17 days in prison before being set free,” Tillis said. “My judge is now doing fifteen years in a penitentiary.”

Tillis’ message was accompanied by calls to sign petitions supporting Maryland’s proposed moratorium on the death penalty and an invitation to an anti-death penalty march in Baltimore this weekend.

“The dialogue we started was so important … that we had both the Jewish Student Association and Young Arab Leadership Association together was great,” Mozer said.

The sponsoring coalition of the rally were the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, GU Pride, the Black Student Association, MEChA, the Caribbean Culture Circle, the Muslim Student Association, the Black House, the Jewish Student Association, H*yas for Choice, the New Press, Peace Action, South Asian Society, ASA, Students for a Secular Community and the Young Arab Leadership Association.

This was the first year for the rally at Georgetown, but organizers plan on holding another in the future.

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