On Saturday, approximately 60 Georgetown students joined the tens of thousands of protestors gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the One Nation Working Together rally. The event, whose organizers included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and an array of unions, environmental groups, student groups, and peace advocates, comes a month after the Tea Party rally and one month before key midterm elections.
The Georgetown students at the rally were members of the university’s chapter of NAACP, the GU College Democrats, Women Advancing Gender Equity, MEChA, and the Georgetown University Solidarity Committee.
Many of the Georgetown students who attended the protest said it was not about one particular political issue as much as it was about sending a message.
“It was a chance for us to say, we as progressives can also have a march, we can also gather people together in large numbers,” Carolyn Chambers (COL ’11), the president of Georgetown’s NAACP chapter, said.
Melissa Miller (COL ’12), a member of WAGE, agreed that there was no one central political cause. At one point during the rally, a participant yelled, “What do we want?” and a handful of protesters shouted out a dozen different demands, according to Miller.
Many students from other colleges were drawn to the rally’s call for job creation, especially given rising unemployment among recent college graduates.
Lauren McEntree came to the rally from Emmanuel College in Boston with the group Jobs for Justice. Students in her group were split on many issues, she said, but they all agreed with the protest’s call for job growth.
Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, also spoke about job growth in an interview with the Voice.
“If you want to get out of this great recession, you got to invest in the country you want to be. That means you have to invest in jobs and you have to invest in schools,” Jealous said.
Lindsay McCluskey, the president of the United States Student Association, who helped organize student presence at the rally and spoke alongside Al Sharpton during the event, said that from her talks with college students, she had come to see rising tuition costs as a huge concern.
“I think that jobs are a reason why a lot of young people turned out,” she said. “But I also think that the cost of college is something that’s really important to the young people.”
Other speakers included musician and social activist Harry Belafonte, who criticized the war in Afghanistan extensively, and Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO, who urged attendees to carry the energy of the rally into the polls.
Georgetown College Democrats President Brian Woll (COL ‘12) felt the speeches contrasted well with those at the Glenn Beck rally, which he described as fear mongering and doomsday talk.
“There were inspirational speeches, and that was good to hear,” Woll said. “People are realizing that this is for real, you can’t sit out this election.”