We seemed to be hundreds of people deep, but when we turned a street corner, there was another huge group of protesters walking to meet us. This incredibly inspiring moment brought tears to both of our eyes. We had walked about halfway up Water Street when we heard the screams. There was chaos as the crowd parted — people were darting off the road — and we both leapt to the side of the street just as a Dodge Challenger came barreling through.
The scene was horrific. People were having panic attacks, sobbing, bleeding and hugging. Those with huge banners shielded the injured as they received medical treatment. It was unclear whether the crowd was still in danger, but the alleyways were crowding up. We called a friend who lives close by and he took us in and gave us some water and food. We called our parents, we called our friends and then we sat in silence.
We witnessed domestic terrorism in our home. Neither of us regrets attending the rally, and we will keep showing up, every single time it’s necessary.
Political and Social Thought, ’18
This weekend I sat at home in Northern Virginia, paralyzed, watching on television as white supremacists marched with torches outside the room I will be living in this year.
I’m one of 54 students who have the honor to live on University of Virginia’s Lawn — Thomas Jefferson’s original “academical village” — for our fourth year of college. This has always been a big deal for me; it’s something I’ve worked for since my first year. Students are chosen to live on the Lawn based on academic excellence, leadership and service.
The Lawn is the central nervous system of the university. It is also a space that was traditionally occupied by scions of slaveholding families. It used to be a place where people like me, a brown kid attending school on a financial aid scholarship, did not belong. Somehow I made it.
That small victory feels like a sick joke now.
Instead of saying that the university is going to keep me and my peers of color safe — or reassuring students that we belong on our campus and no one can take that from us — Teresa Sullivan, the president of University of Virginia, sent out a statement that reminded us that the college “is a public institution and follows state and federal law regarding the public’s right to access open spaces.” She wrote that the University of Virginia supports First Amendment rights but rejects “the…