More than 400 Johns Hopkins students, faculty, and staff linked arms in an unbroken chain that stretched along Charles Street from the East Gate of the university's Homewood campus to Art Museum Drive this afternoon. They stood in silence for 397 seconds—one second for every year since the first documented African slave was brought to the Americas.
The demonstration, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, aimed to acknowledge the events that have taken place around the country involving violence against African-Americans, organizers said. It was also an acknowledgement of the day-to-day micro- and macro-aggressions affecting minority members of society.
"I think it's important to show solidarity in the face of recent events of police brutality in not only the Baltimore community, but nationwide," said Monique Sterling, a senior molecular cellular biology major at JHU who participated in the demonstration. "As a prominent university, it's important for us as the student body to show our support."
Added first-year student Mark Jing: "I've been following the social unrest that's been happening, especially this last year. I thought this was a great opportunity to one, learn more, and two, raise awareness about an important issue."
For Janice Wang, a first-year international student, it was important to help amplify a message of inclusion.
"I feel that often Asian-Americans are criticized for not speaking up on racial issues. I think just coming out and having a presence shows that Asian-Americans do care about racial issues and are speaking up for social justice," she said.
The event was organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs General Assembly—a consortium of cultural and identity student groups—and supported by the Centers for Community, Diversity, and Inclusion, which includes the Johns Hopkins Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of Gender Equity, LGBTQ Life, and Campus Ministries.
"Over the past few years, the shooting deaths of black people have been brought to light, resulting in the current racial tensions we are experiencing as a nation," said Jamie Riley, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, who led the event. "The current dynamics within our country compelled us to support students in organizing this demonstration, which is a small contribution to the larger racial justice movements taking place around the country. These amazing Johns Hopkins students are taking a stand for what they believe in, and I am proud to stand alongside them."