Kalamazoo to Ferguson: Students and staff from Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University travelled to Ferguson, Mo for the Weekend of Resistance.
Why did you go to Ferguson?
I went to Ferguson to learn more about the work of the local activists and to be a part of the movement. I also wanted to see first hand what was happening in Missouri as well lend my voice to this cause. I was deeply saddened and upset by the killing of Mike Brown and I wanted to play my part in ensuring that justice would be served. – Sashae Mitchell, A Tough Mind and Tender Heart featured activist
I went to Ferguson to support brothers and sisters in the struggle as well as take the vibes back home so people understand how real it is and organize around issues pertaining to my community – JaRay Reese, resident of Kalamazoo and member of Kalamazoo for Justice
What did you hope to accomplish personally? Were you successful?
I wanted to learn more about what had happened and how I could share my experiences once I returned to Kalamazoo. I also wanted to serve and contribute my time wherever it was needed. My service as a volunteer was rewarding and I’m sure it was appreciated but I think being in Ferguson did more for me than I did for them. Much of time there revealed more than what had transpired in the Mike Brown case but reinforced the fact that we have to address the serious issue in our society where young black men are considered ‘suspicious’ and are ultimately being killed by the police or others. Michelle Alexander so carefully describes the issue of mass incarceration in communities of color in her most recent book, the New Jim Crow but I would dare to say that this level of state sanctioned violence could be described as the new lynching system. Very Disturbing! – Sashae Mitchell
As an activist, how has this experience effected you? Share one meaningful aspect of your trip?
The outpouring of love and support was tremendous! I went to Ferguson hoping to experience much hostility from the police and others and while there may have been some of that, I was really fascinated by the love at each rally or march we had on that weekend. I was encouraged and inspired by the number of people who came to Ferguson to support this cause. I left feeling hopeful that regardless of what the grand jury verdict was, we were successful in bringing people of liked minds together to advocate and fight for the future of young black people in this country – Sashae Mitchell
What activities do you have planned to continue the work you began in Ferguson?
Ultimately I feel my job is at the grassroots, to educate youth and families on issues regarding race and relations in America and educate brothers and sisters of color on embracing the skin there in… – JaRay Reese
Personally, I think that my involvement in the weekend of resistance was a part of the many forms of work that I am invested in towards being the best resource and support possible with vulnerable communities to combat institutions of oppression. I am a mentor in the Juvenile Home and I alongside 14 K College students facilitate life skills workshops and carry one on one mentoring sessions with each of the youth in the Juvenile Home in hopes of supporting them to disturb the school to prison pipeline and institutionalized script for them to end up in prison. I have also been involved with Kalamazoo for Justice group that has been organizing in alignment with the Ferguson Actions. Whenever I am home in L.A., I join local organized events in relation to Ferguson Actions. In the classroom, I actively take on the role of student facilitator to ensure that discourse addresses the very real issues that arise due to racism and all other forms of oppression. Most importantly, I’ve committed myself to lifelong research. We can’t change what we don’t know. We must know the communities that we are reforming. As I learn from my experiences and varying forms of self education, I implement these things into my work as a senior resident assistant, president student ambassador, Secretary of student affairs, tutor, and Asian Pacific islander student association president. – Mele Makalo
Hundreds of People in Kalamazoo stage a Die-In and Protest the Recent Grand Jury Decisions Not to Indict
Kalamazoo in the News: Providence Journal and USA Today
It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains. – Assata Shakur